Biden’s vaccine mandate raises questions for large employers

Sep 16, 2021
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Written by Washington Retail
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President Biden’s announcement that a vaccine mandate for large employers would soon be adopted has raised questions and concerns by many businesses.

The announcement impacts businesses with 100 or more employees. Is the requirement by location or business-wide? Some companies have several locations with less than 100 employees at each location.

Businesses that fall under the mandate will be able to choose between requiring all employees to be vaccinated or allowing them to provide weekly negative Covid-19 test results. Who pays for the tests? The employer or the employee? – Unfortunately, there are not enough tests available for all employees in large businesses to get all unvaccinated employees tested. Employers will likely be required to pay for time off to get the vaccine and any time loss for side effects from taking the vaccine.

In a recent WR poll, two-thirds of members responded indicating they anticipate a loss in workers due to the mandate, and over 80% of respondents believe Biden’s requirement will have a negative impact on maintaining or meeting their company’s future workforce needs.

When will this new mandate go into effect? Likely by the end of 2021. OSHA has been tasked with adopting the rules. Then OMB will be tasked with review before they are finally adopted. Ultimately, OSHA is empowered to fine employers up to $13,600 per violation of the new rule.

Being that Washington State has a more stringent OSHA – called WISHA – within the Department of Labor and Industries – it is likely WISHA will be enforcing and administering the new requirements.

There is also talk of potential lawsuits on the legality of the proposed rules. Estimates are that most of the challenges will be filed once the rule has been promulgated.

WR is working with other industry stakeholders to answer many of these questions and influence the rule-writing process.