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OSHA Releases Workplace Vaccine Rule

OSHA Releases Workplace Vaccine Rule

Employers with 100 or more employees will need to ensure that they are vaccinated or tested weekly by January 4.

November 04, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination Card

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued a requirement that employers with 100 or more employees mandate that all of their employees be fully vaccinated no later than January 4, 2022, or implement a policy allowing for weekly testing. The rule also requires that all unvaccinated workers wear a face mask on the job and submit to weekly testing. The mandate doesn’t apply to employees who work remotely or exclusively outdoors.

The emergency temporary standard (ETS) answers many of the questions NACS and other fuel retailing groups sent to OSHA in September but not all.

The rule will apply to all employers with 100 or more employees regardless of whether those employees work full- or part-time schedules. It will also apply to any employer that reaches that 100-employee threshold during the effective period of the rule and remains in effect even if a covered employer drops below that threshold for any reason.

Covered employers have 30 days to create and implement a written policy requiring vaccination or testing, though the requirement to enforce testing won’t kick in for 60 days. Employers must provide all workers with copies of that written policy and a copy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) “Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines” document.

To encourage vaccination, employers will be required to provide up to four hours of paid time off for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as a reasonable amount of paid sick leave to be used to recover from any side effects.  While the rule doesn’t specify what a “reasonable amount of time” is, OSHA suggests two workdays.

Companies, however, won’t be made to pay for weekly testing for their unvaccinated employees under the OSHA rule but may be required to pay for tests under other laws or collective bargaining agreements.

OSHA does specify what tests may be used to satisfy the requirement. Over-the-counter tests that are conducted and read by the employee will not satisfy the requirement. Only tests conducted or observed by appropriate laboratories or health-care professionals will be acceptable under the ETS.

Reporting of a negative test result is required every seven calendar days, or in the case of a primarily remote employee, within seven calendar days before they would come into a workplace setting with other employees. Additionally, any unvaccinated employee, regardless of testing status, will be required to wear a face covering while at work. While vaccinated employees will not face such a requirement, OSHA strongly encourages universal face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

Employers are required to obtain and keep vaccination and testing records of their employees as long as the ETS is in place. Verbal declarations of vaccination status or test results will not comply with this requirement. Employers must keep a roster of all employees readily showing each worker’s vaccination status and provide that roster to OSHA if necessary. Employers who do not comply with this ETS may be subject to considerable financial penalties, OSHA said.

NACS will be providing a more detailed analysis for NACS members as soon as possible.

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