On November 5th, 2021, OSHA (U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) published an ETS (Emergency Temporary standard) due to the complications caused by the covid-19 virus across the country; the main policy aim is to make vaccine administration and covid-19 testing mandatory in both private and public companies throughout the country, and workers are to have a written proof stating they have been vaccinated. If they do not want to be vaccinated, they would have to go through with covid-19 testing every two weeks and also wear a face mask at work at all times.
The ETS is to cover private sector companies with more than 100 active employees, together with State and local government employers in states with OSHA-approved state plans; the OSHA targets a total of about 80 million workers across the country. However, small-time businesses have not been included in the new policy, although it is possible that they too could be included.
Companies are allowed to give thoughts and comments on the policy that should be submitted by December 6, 2021. The policy requires compliance without actual vaccination and testing by December 5, 2021; full implementation of the policy together with vaccine administration and testing is set to start January 4, 2022, the duration of the policy is estimated to hold for about 6 months, at this time the OHSA would determine whether the standard should continue or not. The policy also gives some room for employees and persons if they have a medical complication that hinders the administration of the vaccine or a health disability.
The process of the vaccination is to span for two weeks after the first dose of the vaccine has been administered; after the vaccination administration has been completed, the workers or their employers are required to submit full documentation showing proof of vaccination, failure to do this can lead to a number of punishments some of which include a fine of $13,653 per violation, and up to $136,532 for willful or repeated violations.
Unsurprisingly a good amount of opposition has sprung up against the policy, even on the same day the policy was published by OSHA, which has paused the ETS from being implemented. On November 12, 2021, the US court of appeal issued a “stay” order preventing the OHSA from carrying out the ETS, which they have complied with and ceased operations.
As of this moment, the ETS has been suspended until further notice; however, it is still a mystery whether it would be implemented or permanently scrapped. Companies, Employers, and Employees are advised to make preparations in case the ETS is approved.