The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Public Health’s (OSHA) emergency temporary standard (ETS), which imposes vaccine and testing requirements on private businesses with over 100 employees, forces weighty burdens on unvaccinated workers who choose the testing option. It requires them to wear a mask in almost all social situations and places the burden of testing costs on the individual, as OSHA’s rule “does not require employers to pay for any costs associated with testing.”
OSHA released the rule Thursday, weeks after President Biden announced his plans asking the agency to craft one. The rule requires employers with over 100 employees to “maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status” and enforce weekly testing requirements for those who refuse to get the vaccine. The rule, which goes into effect January 4, involves “planned inspections” and heavy fines of $14,000 per violation at the start.
A senior Biden official added that employers “willfully violating a standard” will face further penalties “significantly higher than a workplace that is not willfully doing so.”
Employees who refuse to get the shot will be subject to a coronavirus test “at least weekly” if they are in an office at least once a week, or “within 7 days before returning to work” if away from the office for over a week. Notably, the ETS does not place the burden of testing costs on the employer, but on the unvaccinated individual. However, OSHA says employers may be required to pay some of the costs of testing because of other laws or bargaining agreements. Nonetheless, the agency itself is not requiring employers to do so:
The ETS does not require employers to pay for any costs associated with testing. However employer payment for testing may be required by other laws, regulations, or collective bargaining agreements or other collectively negotiated agreements. In addition, nothing prohibits employers from voluntarily assuming the costs associated with testing.
Additionally, the rule requires employers to force unvaccinated individuals to wear a face covering in virtually all scenarios — when indoors or “when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes, except in certain limited circumstances”:
Employers must not prevent any employee, regardless of vaccination status, from voluntarily wearing a face covering unless it creates a serious workplace hazard (e.g., interfering with the safe operation of equipment).
OSHA predicts its coercive mandate will “result in approximately 23 million individuals becoming vaccinated.”
Mere months ago, the Biden White House explicitly said vaccine mandates were “not the role of the federal government.”