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Federal vaccine mandate FAQ

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has suspended implementation of the federal vaccine mandate as a challenge to the mandate is litigated.

The Missouri Chamber has submitted a public comment to OSHA in opposition to this mandate. Missouri employers can do the same.

We continue to closely monitor this issue and will keep Missouri employers informed of updates.

 

Employer FAQ

What is the Missouri Chamber’s position on the mandate?
The Missouri Chamber has always taken a stance against attempts to place new, burdensome government mandates on employers.

“The Missouri Chamber opposes this onerous new federal mandate. Each workplace is different and employers have long held the right to establish vaccine policies that work for their businesses. The Missouri Chamber believes all employers should continue to have this right when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Missouri Chamber President/CEO Daniel P. Mehan said in a Nov. 4 statement. “In contrast with the Biden Administration’s approach, we believe the federal government should instead cooperate with the employer community to encourage vaccination and support employers that exercise their legal right to require vaccination. It’s unfortunate that this new federal policy will likely further divide public sentiment around COVID-19 vaccination.”

What is the deadline for compliance?
Under the original plan, face coverings for unvaccinated employees were required starting Dec 5. Then employers had until Jan. 4, 2022 to comply with the requirement that staff either be fully vaccinated or tested at least once weekly. While these compliance dates still stand, it is unclear whether they will change if the plan clears legal challenges.

How can employers express their opinion about the mandate?
While the emergency temporary standard is effective immediately, OSHA is seeking public comment on whether this should be a permanent and final standard and is soliciting input on whether this mandate should also be expanded in the future to all employers, regardless of size. Learn how you can make your voice heard on the federal vaccine mandate by submitting a public comment.

To which organizations does the mandate apply?
Those with 100 or more employees company-wide.

Does this impact employers with fewer than 100 employees?
The current rule does not apply to employers with less than 100 staff members. However, OSHA’s language indicates they are considering applying this to smaller employers and leaves the door open to that happening in the future.

What requirements start on Dec. 5?
Under the original plan, all reporting and record keeping requirements, paid time off for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and masking for unvaccinated employees were required to be in place on Dec. 5. Employers were also to provide information to employees about the new rule by Dec. 5. It is unclear if these dates will be delayed.

Do employers have to pay for the tests?
If any workers opt to be tested weekly instead of getting vaccinated, employers aren’t required to pay for the testing.

Under the mandate, are employers required to give employees paid time off to receive the vaccine?
Yes.

Does the mandate apply to remote workers?
The mandate does not apply to staff who do not report to a workplace where other employees or customers are present — such as those working at home or exclusively working outdoors.

Do employees have to wear masks?
OSHA is requiring that unvaccinated employees wear face masks while at work. This mask mandate was set to begin on Dec. 5 before implementation was suspended. It’s unclear if this date will be pushed back.

Are the rules different for health care employers?
Under a different federal rule health care workers are not given the option for weekly testing as a way to forgo a COVID-19 vaccine. This rule includes health care employees who do not work in a clinical setting and all facilities that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid.

What is the deadline for federal contractors?
In guidance for federal contractors updated on Nov. 10, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force clarified that covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated no later than Jan. 18, 2022. This requirement is not affected by the block of the emergency temporary standard.

How will the mandate be enforced?
Companies to which the mandate applies must self-enforce. COVID-19 vaccination checks can be carried out during normal OSHA inspections. OSHA will also respond to violations reported by employees.

What is the penalty for non-compliance?
Serious violations can be up to $13,653 each. Repeated violations can receive fines up to ten times that.

How many Missouri employers will the mandate affect?
According to statistics from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the mandate will impact more than 3,700 Missouri employers.

What is the Missouri business community’s opinion on the mandate?
According to a Missouri Chamber poll, 80% of employers oppose this mandate.

Where can I read the full OSHA document?
Read the full OSHA document here.

Does the Missouri Chamber encourage voluntary COVID-19 vaccination?
While the Missouri Chamber holds that the federal government should not be able to dictate new, burdensome employer policy, it does believe the choice to get vaccinated remains key to economic recovery.

Prior to the announcement of the federal mandate, the Missouri Chamber made national news for its “COVID Stops Here” initiative, a completely voluntary program that encourages employers to offer employees accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and recognizes workplaces vaccinated at certain percentage milestones.

“We need more Missourians to get vaccinated so that we can put this pandemic behind us for good,” said Mehan. “The Missouri Chamber will continue leading in this effort and we continue to strongly encourage all Missourians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

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