The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on November 4, 2021 a new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that would require employers to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.

ETS Enforcement Paused and Postponed
OSHA has since announced that it has suspended implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.

While ETS is currently on pause until litigation pursues, OSHA recommends that employers continue to build appropriate policy and processes to comply. If the standard proceeds, the original compliance dates will not be modified or pushed back.

What You Should Know About the Emergency Temporary Standard
The emergency temporary standard applies to employers with 100 or more employees company wide and requires employers to do the following:

  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status and maintain records and a roster of each employee's vaccination status.
  • Provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects.
  • Provide prompt notice when employees test positive for COVID-19. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status; not allowing 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 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.
The details of OSHA’s ETS are incredibly complex and employers will certainly need to respond with unique processes to suit the needs of their specific workforce. We encourage you to visit OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage for additional information.

Preparing for Implementation: We Can Help
While the ETS is currently in a holding pattern as it faces legislative debate, employers are encouraged to internally prepare for the implementation.

If you are interested in learning more about OSHA ETS and your requirements as an employer, we can assist you in the following ways:

  • Development of a COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing policy.
  • Review and development of processes, including but not limited to — employee accommodations, exemptions, testing and employee information tracking.
For more information and a deeper conversation about how we can help you remain in compliance with OSHA’s ETS, call us today.