In early September, President Biden announced a new emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently developing the rules and implementation requirements of the federal vaccine mandate. Still, some organizations are beginning to issue statements to their employees preparing them to adhere to the national order. Others are already enforcing a vaccine requirement, regardless of the new law. According to an administration official, failure to comply with the new mandate can result in a $14,000 fine per violation for the employer. In addition, an employer must provide time off for their staff to be vaccinated and recover from any side effects from the shot.
The ETS will impact over 80 million U.S. workers. The new mandate is part of a series of proposals by President Biden to curb the rise in COVID delta variant cases in America and increase vaccination rates. According to the CDC, over 56% of Americans have had the COVID-19 vaccination. And it is estimated that nearly 80 million eligible individuals across the country have not yet been vaccinated. The President’s new action plan also mandates that most federal employees or federal contractors and health care workers be fully vaccinated unless exempted as a result of a disability or on religious grounds.
Now What? As if things weren’t already tough for employers.
If you fall into the “100 or more employee” category, it’s likely your staff has polarizing opinions and beliefs regarding the vaccine. Recent research shows that 28% of employed Americans will risk losing their job before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a complex reality for many struggling business owners who find it challenging to fill positions and keep up with the ever-changing state and federal COVID rules. At the same time, employers who have been considering a vaccination requirement for employees now have the green light to begin implementing a policy.
As you await further governmental guidance and determine the next steps for your business, it’s essential to lead your staff with empathy and thoughtfulness. The decision to be vaccinated is deeply personal for many individuals. Open and honest communication about forthcoming changes continues to play a vital role in ensuring trust and loyalty in your organization.