On Friday, Nov. 5, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued the emergency temporary standard (ETS) for employers with more than 100 people on staff to keep businesses open during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The ETS, which has been much anticipated in the business sector, provides step-by-step guidance for business owners and managers.
However, the workplace vaccine requirement is facing numerous legal challenges.
● On Saturday, the next day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted the President’s workplace vaccination requirements, pending review.
● The White House issued a statement to businesses that vaccination or mask requirements should move forward in the workplace, despite the court-ordered pause, after the court decision was announced.
● The Biden administration, which asked the court to lift the pause on Monday night, is holding that the mandate is critical to maintaining public health.
● Meanwhile, the state of Pennsylvania announced intentions to lift the mask mandate for school students, effective Jan. 2022.
● Over 26 state attorneys general are challenging President Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements at the U.S. appeals court level.
With all of these maneuvers happening, it may be difficult to discern whether the requirements will hold. However, the importance of the OSHA requirements being released is that it spells out what companies need to do to follow the federal mandate.
OSHA’s ETS provides guidelines that can be followed:
● Jan. 4, 2022: By this date, all employers with 100 or more employees have to have their workforce fully vaccinated or require unvaccinated workers to submit to regular testing.
● Dec. 5, 2021: All unvaccinated workers are required to begin wearing masks.
Who is covered:
● Private employers with at least 100 employees, either at the site or company-wide. The number of employees would include those working part-time, those working onsite who are employed by staffing companies, and employees who work from home.
● Employees of any private employer with over 100 employees. Exceptions include those who do not report to a workplace where other people are present, those who are exclusively working from home, and those who work exclusively outdoors.
Employees covered by other rules:
● Federal employees/contractors
● Health care support services
● Health care service
The mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy requires vaccination of all employees except employees who are medically contraindicated, have medical issues that require a delay in vaccination, or have religious beliefs or disabilities that require reasonable accommodations.
Another alternative for covered employers is to develop a written policy where the options are to either get vaccinated or wear a face mask and undergo weekly testing.
The Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold, & Associates P.C., help clients comply with ongoing vaccination and masking requirements. To learn more, call 215-569-1999 or complete an online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, the firm serves clients throughout South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.