The Vaccine Mandate’s Deadline Has Been Set: Here’s What HR Needs to Know

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COVID-19 vaccination is required for employers with 100 or more employees by January 2, 2022. That is, unless you force staff to be vaccinated, undergo regular tests, and conceal their faces at work. OSHA’s new emergency temporary standard confirms this (ETS). By actively pushing immunisation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to safeguard unvaccinated employees of big firms from catching COVID-19.


The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees – firm or company-wide – and provides options for compliance. The ETS also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects.


You do not, however, have to pay for unvaccinated employees’ testing or face coverings.


However, the mandates are sure to cause some dissatisfaction in the workplace. Roughly 60% of employees think vaccine regulations and discussions have generated conflict at their workplace.


HR’s role: Empathy-based leadership


Mandatory vaccinations have become an emotional issue for employees and their families. As a result, leading with empathy will be crucial in developing the trust and mutual understanding required to successfully manage this new workplace challenge.


Now that the mandate has been clear, many HR leaders may breathe a sigh of relief. The mandate has been approved by 60% of employees. They’re also waiting to put it to use. Now it’s up to business leaders to implement the new standards as quickly as possible while causing the least amount of disruption. Everyone now has the clarity they need to effectively communicate expectations and put in place processes that employees can easily understand.


The path forward


Despite the uncertainties, HR leaders can be optimistic that the vaccine regulations will not result in increased turnover.


A very high vaccine uptake is projected for enterprises with vaccine requirements, with just a tiny percentage of employees quitting their jobs to avoid vaccination. One explanation is that the vast majority of them are ahead of schedule. Employers have played a crucial role in protecting the safety of their workers and the general public. Vaccination and vaccine-related side effects are currently covered by the vast majority of employers.


The specifics


According to the Department of Labor, the ETS “covers firms with 100 or more employees – firm or company-wide – and compels employers to give paid time for workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recuperate from any side effects.”


You’ll also need to do the following:


  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable vaccination proof, and keep records and a roster of their status.
  • If employees test positive for COVID-19, they must issue “immediate notice.”
  • Employees, who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of immunisation status, are required to be removed from the workplace and are not allowed to return until they meet the required criteria.
  • Workers who have not been vaccinated will be tested. Employees who haven’t been fully vaccinated must be tested at least once a week (if they’re at work at least once a week) or within seven days of returning to work (if they’ve been away from work for a week or more), and
  • Employers must ensure that “each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors.” They’ll also require one “while occupying a vehicle with another person for employment purposes.”


Important points to be noted


The ETS will cover two-thirds of the nation’s private-sector workforce. In the 26 states and two territories with OSHA State Plans, the ETS will also cover public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff.


Leading companies, including major airlines, manufacturers and retailers, have taken similar actions in recent months – adopting vaccine requirements or regular testing as necessary measures to protect their workers and customers.


The ETS is effective immediately upon its publication in the Federal Register. Employers must comply with most requirements within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements within 60 days of publication.


Employers don’t pay for


Unless “other laws, rules, collective bargaining agreements, or other collectively negotiated agreements” necessitate it, you are not required to pay for testing. You also won’t have to spend on face masks.


Important dates to be aware of


When the requirement is published in the Federal Register, it becomes effective. The date is set for November 5, 2021.


Most vaccine mandate requirements must be met within 30 days after publication by employers. Following that, you’ll have 60 days to complete the testing criteria (January 4, 2022).


This vaccine requirement is also a proposal for a final standard to be developed through conventional rulemaking. OSHA will seek feedback on all of the ETS before deciding whether or not to adopt it as a final standard.


OSHA also sought input on whether vaccine mandates should apply to firms with fewer than 100 employees.


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