Feds are calling for large employers to mandate a coronavirus vaccine

Diving letter:

  • The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency is developing a rule to implement a new temporary emergency standard that requires all employers with more than 100 employees to ensure that their workforce is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or that all unvaccinated workers pass a negative test have results weekly before starting work, according to a White House statement.
  • Separately, President Joe Biden signed an executive order Thursday requiring all federal executive staff to be vaccinated, and that standard would be extended to employees of contractors doing business with the federal government.
  • OSHA’s temporary standard also requires insured employers to provide paid time off for the time workers need to get vaccinated or recover from post-vaccination side effects, the White House said.

Dive Insight:

The recent move by the Biden government to vaccinate workers follows a series of appeals to those who are not vaccinated.

Two-dose mRNA vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech was approved by the Food and Drug Administration has placed trust in many employers To implement mandates. After an August 24 press conference citing the FDA’s decision as a sign that “now is the time” for companies and other entities to request vaccination, Biden again referred to the agency’s approval during a televised address on Thursday evening.

“My message to the unvaccinated Americans is: What is there to wait? What else do you need to see? ”He said. “We have been patient, but our patience is failing and your refusal has cost us all.”

The percentage of Americans who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine exceeded 61% last week, according to the research organization Our World in Data.

“Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” Biden said Thursday. “In a country as big as ours, that is [a] 25% minority. Those 25% can do a lot of damage, and they are. “

Construction Impact

The new requirements affect contractors with more than 100 employees or those who conclude contracts with the federal government. Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives for the Associated General Contractors of America, said union officials were looking at the details.

“We will review OSHA’s new Temporary Emergency Standard when it is released to ensure it is effectively improving the health and safety of construction workers and is not placing undue new burdens on employers,” he said.

Since this spring Contractor groups have been working to help their members advocate vaccines in the workforce. The AGC, Associated Builders and Contractors, and other organizations have partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require construction workers to get vaccinated.

The coalition also distributed training materials and a public service notice urging workers to get their syringes. AGC groups and member firms across the country have hosted vaccine clinics for their employees and often for their competitors’ employees, Turmail said.

“We understand, appreciate, and agree to the need for every qualified American to be vaccinated against the coronavirus,” he said. “So we’re taking all possible steps to encourage workers to get the vaccine.”

Possible exceptions

A number of employers who would presumably fall under the rule outlined by the White House have already implemented mandates. the List contains Tyson Foods, Microsoft, and Walmart, among others. Likewise, job advertisements that require a vaccination against COVID-19 increased by 34% through the Indeed recruiting service between the first weeks of July and August.

Consulting firm Willis Towers Watson found in a survey of 961 employers conducted in mid-August that more than the half could have some kind of mandatory vaccination by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021.

But not all employers or industries have consistently moved to take on mandates. A report by law firm Littler Mendelson last month found that individuals in manufacturing, retail and hospitality least likely to need COVID-19 vaccines, with common concerns such as employee resistance, loss of employees, and effects on culture and morals.

There may also be concerns about the need to host staff who cannot receive vaccination, whether because of illness or a genuine religious belief. “A DOL rule, if enacted, would almost certainly confirm that employers must accept workers who refuse to be vaccinated because of a disability or a genuine religious belief,” said Paula Ketcham, partner at Schiff Hardin. in an email to HR Dive.

Jenn Goodman contributed to this report.

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