The Path out of the Pandemic
On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced the COVID-19 Action Plan referred to as “Path Out of the Pandemic.” The plan includes the following six pillars:
- Vaccinating the Unvaccinated;
- Further Protecting the Vaccinated;
- Keeping Schools Safely Open;
- Increasing Testing & Requiring Masking;
- Protecting Our Economic Recovery; and
- Improving Care for those with COVID-19.
The first pillar is the one that will have the largest affect on large companies over the next few weeks. The plan will require all employers with 100+ employees to:
- Require their workers be vaccinated or be tested weekly
- Provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or recover from vaccination side effects
The details will be fully described through a new OSHA emergency temporary standard (ETS). The DOL Office of Public Engagement and OSHA had a remote briefing September 10, 2021 and indicated the ETS would come out in the “coming weeks.” They did confirm the ETS would not reach 100% remote workers but will instead address obligations for any employee who makes an in-person appearance at work.
Lots of questions remain including:
- Who will be responsible for paying for testing and will the time associated with completing the testing be compensable?
- What type of testing will be acceptable (Over the Counter, Antigen, PCR)?
- Will the 100+ employee threshold be considered on a per location basis or company-wide basis?
- Will there be legal challenges to the ETS once released?
Once issued, the ETS will have immediate effect in the 29 states where federal OSHA has jurisdiction. But in states where the federal government does not have jurisdiction over workplace safety (OSHA-state-plan states such as California, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky) these agencies will have to adopt the ETS or “just-as-effective measures” within 15 to 30 days.
Once released, covered companies who ignore the standard could face OSHA citations and penalties of up to $14,000 per violation.
TCWGlobal continues to monitor this ever-changing issue and is here to help Client’s implement vaccination policies for their contingent workers and simplify vaccine card collection through StaffingNation.