The emergency rule, being developed by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), remains under consideration. Reports have revealed that the highly anticipated mandate for private-sector employers will grant businesses the option to compel unvaccinated employees to assume the financial responsibility for required weekly testing and masks.
The emergency rule will apply to companies with at least 100 employees. Expected for release within the next few days, the rule will provide employers the option of paying for testing and masks for unvaccinated employees or requiring those employees to assume financial responsibility themselves.
Employers will be responsible for costs of testing and masks in cases where:
- An employee is entitled to a religious exemption.
- An employee is entitled to an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Testing costs are subject to a union bargaining agreement.
The new rule is expected to require unvaccinated workers to continue wearing masks while indoors and in close contact with coworkers.
When the rule is released, it will allow for an implementation period, after which employers not in compliance may face citations of up to $14,000 per violation.
By giving employers the flexibility to pass financial responsibility to workers who refuse vaccination, the Biden administration appears to be fostering further encouragement for Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Several state attorney generals from Republican-led states have expressed intent to file lawsuits challenging the Biden Administration’s authority to impose a workplace vaccination mandate.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 1,519 adults has revealed that 5% of unvaccinated adults state that they have left a job because of COVID-19 vaccination requirements. If faced with a mandate, 46% of unvaccinated workers said they would likely choose weekly testing rather than leave their jobs (37%) or get vaccinated (11%). Roughly 6 in 10 unvaccinated workers said that they likely would seek an exemption: most based on religious grounds.
Pittsburgh Labor & Employment Attorneys
The Lynch Law Group continues to monitor the anticipated announcement of the final emergency rule and will report on the mandate’s impact on private-sector employers. For more information, contact Labor & Employment attorney Frank Botta at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 724.776.8000.