On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to require employees either be fully vaccinated or produce negative test results for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The announcement is part of the Biden Administration’s six-pronged strategy for combating COVID-19 and its variants.

OSHA is expected to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement the requirement. According to the White House, the rule will impact more than 80 million workers in the private sector. The ETS will also require covered employers to provide paid time off for workers to be vaccinated and/or recover if they experience post-vaccination effects.

At this time, not much is known about what the specific requirements will be. Neither the White House nor OSHA has indicated when the new requirements will issue or how long employers will have to comply. Under a new Executive Order, also announced Thursday, the White House has said federal workers and contractors will have 75 days to become fully vaccinated, eliminating a prior rule that allowed regular testing in lieu of vaccination. Federal workers and contractors will be allowed limited exemptions for religious or medical reasons. It is unknown whether private employers with more than 100 employees will have similar mandates. Also unclear, is how private employers will be expected to enforce and implement the new rule.

Here in Michigan, MIOSHA’s current COVID-19 emergency rules only cover healthcare employers, allowing employers in other sectors broad discretion to tailor COVID-19 prevention measures to their business and workforce. With a new ETS from OSHA, however, MIOSHA will have 30 days to align its rules with OSHA requirements.

The Rhoades McKee Employment Law Team is keeping an eye on these developments and will issue updates as information becomes available. Rhoades McKee attorneys are available to provide employers with guidance on compliance with these and other regulations.

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