The Biden administration has released the new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that requires 84 million private-sector workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The administration has also announced its rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring 17 million health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding to be vaccinated.
The White House is also pushing back the deadline for workers in those sectors to get fully vaccinated to Jan. 4, 2022, according to a senior administration official. That date also applies to federal contractors.
In September, the Biden administration stated it would require employees at federal contractors to get vaccinated by Dec. 8.
“We wanted to do this because we’re really aligning it to make it easier—to make it as easy as possible for businesses to implement these requirements and for workers to comply,” the official said when asked about pushing back the deadline.
The Biden administration received multiple letters from industries requesting the vaccination deadline be moved back until after the holiday season.
The OSHA rule requires employers with 100 or more employees to put vaccine requirements in place for all staff, or face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The agency is allowed to put into place an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) when it determines workers are at “grave risk.”
Under the rule, workers who aren’t vaccinated are required to submit a weekly negative COVID test at no expense to their employer. Unvaccinated workers are also required to wear masks when on the job. Health care workers don’t have the testing option.
The ETS requires employers to determine and keep a record of the vaccination status of each employee and report all COVID deaths and hospitalizations to OSHA.
OSHA has also indicated the rule may be expanded to include small businesses. According to the 490-page document, the agency is seeking public comments “to determine whether to expand the scope of the ETS.”
The rule takes effect immediately upon publication, scheduled for Nov. 5, in the federal register.
By Nick Ciolino