by John Boling
On November 3, 2021, Doug Parker was sworn in as head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after receiving confirmation by the US Senate in late October. Parker most recently served as chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. During the Obama administration, he served as deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.
On November 4, OSHA finalized the emergency temporary standard on vaccination and testing that will apply to companies with 100 or more employees. The 490-page rule, according to an OSHA statement, requires employers to:
- Get their employees vaccinated by January 4, 2022, and require unvaccinated employees to produce a negative test on at least a weekly basis. All covered employers must ensure that their employees have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated—either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson—by January 4. After that, all covered employers must ensure that any employees who have not received the necessary shots begin producing a verified negative test to their employer on at least a weekly basis, and they must remove from the workplace any employee who receives a positive COVID-19 test or is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider. The ETS lays out the wide variety of tests that comply with the standard, and it does not require employers to provide or pay for tests. However, employers may be required to pay for testing because of other laws or collective bargaining agreements.
- Pay employees for the time it takes to get vaccinated. All covered employers are required to provide paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated and, if needed, sick leave to recover from side effects experienced that keep them from working.
- Ensure all unvaccinated employees are masked. All covered employers must ensure that unvaccinated employees wear a face mask while in the workplace.
Employers are subject to requirements for reporting and recordkeeping that are spelled out in the detailed OSHA materials. While the testing requirement for unvaccinated workers will begin after January 4, employers must be in compliance with all other requirements—such as providing paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and masking for unvaccinated workers—on December 5, 2021.
Several states and organizations have already declared an intent to challenge the rule now that it is finalized.