The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) took the unprecedented step of issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) requiring, among other things, COVID-19 vaccinations or regular testing for millions of private sector employees. This is part of a trilogy of vaccine mandates President Biden announced in recent weeks, and it is easily the most far-reaching: by OSHA’s estimates, the ETS will cover approximately 264,000 entities and 84.2 million employees.
The requirements of the ETS include establishing and implementing a written mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or alternative policy requiring testing and face coverings; determining employee vaccination status; supporting employee vaccination by providing paid time for vaccination and time off for recovery; ensuring that employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least once every seven days and wear face coverings; and recordkeeping for employee vaccination status and testing.
While the ETS stops short of providing an absolute vaccine mandate, OSHA makes clear that it is designed to encourage vaccinations, stating: “[W]hile this ETS offers employers a choice in how to comply, OSHA has presented implementation of a vaccination mandate as the preferred compliance option.”
Our client alert provides answers to some of the most common questions we have been receiving concerning the ETS: