The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that all companies with more than 100 employees will be required to follow COVID-19 testing and vaccination rules starting January 4, 2021.
“The nation’s unvaccinated workers face grave danger from workplace exposure to coronavirus, and immediate action is necessary to protect them,” the department wrote in a news release.
According to the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers “must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.”
If an employer does not require a vaccination policy, they do have the option to be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis and wear a mask while at work.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19. Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19, and we expect many will be pleased to see this OSHA rule go into effect.”
The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) does not require employers to pay for testing.
“While vaccination remains the most effective and efficient defense against COVID-19, this emergency temporary standard will protect all workers, including those who remain unvaccinated, by requiring regular testing and the use of face coverings by unvaccinated workers to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “As part of OSHA’s mission to protect the safety and health of workers, this rule will provide a roadmap to help businesses keep their workers safe.”
According to the DOL, the ETS will cover two-thirds of the private-sector workforce, or 84.2 million workers. OSHA is in the process of seeking public comment on the ETS to decide if the DOL will make this a final standard.