The newest COVID-19 mandate could seriously affect your workforce
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in part of the United States Department of Labor, announced its latest COVID-9 mandate in November 2021. OHSA’s COVID mandate comes after almost two years of COVID-related deaths and infection cases. In the national news release, it is reported that “Many of the people killed and infected by this virus were workers whose primary exposures occurred at their jobs,” thus resulting in a nationwide labor force mandate. But what does this mean for employers? Do small, local businesses have to comply? Will employers have to cover the testing costs for unvaccinated employees? Keep reading to find out how your business is affected by OHSA’s COVID mandate.
What exactly is OHSA’s COVID mandate?
It’s important to note that the mandate is defined as “emergency temporary standard,” meaning that the rule could really change at any moment and is not a permanent regulation. The rule states that employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 policy, or they can adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to get vaccinated or be tested regularly for COVID while also wearing a face covering at work.
Does this rule apply to my company?
The emergency temporary standard only applies to companies with 100 or more employees. If you operate a businesses where employees are remote and not required to be in-office, you may also be exempt from the rule.
Do I have to cover COVID testing costs?
As an employer, you are not required to pay for COVID testing under OSHA’s COVID mandate. However, other laws and regulations set in place may require you to do so. There are several resources that offer free COVID testing, so employees are still available to be tested for free if the company is not required to pay.
States such as California require employers to pay for all testing-related costs if the employer requires employees to be vaccinated. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay for time spent out-of-office waiting to get and receiving medical attention, such as COVID testing. If an employer requires employees to get tested off-duty, the employer may or may not be responsible for testing costs. In regards to whether or not the bill falls on the employer or not, the Department of Labor says “the testing is necessary for them to perform their jobs safely and effectively during the pandemic.”
What am I required to do under the mandate?
The OSHA national news release states four requirements under the emergency temporary standard.
- Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.
- Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status; employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.
- Ensure each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
- Ensure that, in most circumstances, each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.
I still have questions…now what?
OSHA is offering several resources for implementing the mandate. If you have questions regarding OHSA’s COVID mandate, a representative of On Demand will be happy to assist you. On Demand is equipped with workplace health and safety experts who can work with you to establish and implement regulations across your entire company. On Demand will come onsite to provide COVID tests or vaccines. Call today to learn more: 330-270-3660.