BREAKING NEWS (Update 1/13/22): Supreme Court halts Biden vaccine mandate
Update 12/29/21: On January 7, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the federal mandate for health care workers and the testing-or-vaccine mandate for large employers. The justices scheduled expedited hearings in the cases, even though the lawsuits are still in a preliminary stage where courts aren’t making final rulings on the merits but deciding whether mandates should be frozen while the litigation plays out.
Additionally, according to a Dec. 18 press release, OSHA will not issue citations “for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS” before Jan. 10 and won’t issue citations for testing requirements before Feb. 9, “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.” Additionally, the agency will provide compliance assistance to covered employers.
Update: 12/20/21 – The courts have lifted the stay on the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine and testing mandate for large employers. While an appeal to the US Supreme Court has been filed to challenge this mandate, it is scheduled to go into effect on January 10.
The Missouri Chamber submitted a public comment to OSHA in opposition to this mandate.
We continue to closely monitor this issue and will keep Missouri employers informed of updates.
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?
OSHA states that it will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the mandate before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. It is unclear if the compliance deadline will change if the Supreme Court agrees to review the legal challenge.
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 Jan. 10?
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 assumed that all of these requirements are shifted to the January 10 compliance date. OSHA states they will not issue citations on noncompliance with the testing requirement until February 9.
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?
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. The mask mandate for unvaccinated employees will now be implemented on January 10.
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. Federal courts have suspended implementation of this rule in Missouri. The rule for health care employees is expected to continue being litigated.
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 now paused at the courts have issued a stay on the federal contractor mandate. This rule is expected to continue being litigated.
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.”