Updated 11/15: OSHA is suspending the implementation and enforcement of the COVID ETS. It has been legally challenged and awaiting an appeals court hearing. We recommend that employers familiarize themselves with the ETS as some or all of it may go into effect in the future.
Original article: OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 vaccination and testing is officially in the Federal Register. By December 4, employers must comply with nearly all ETS provisions. COVID testing requirements must begin by January 4.
A few things to note:
- All private employers with 100 or more total (temporary and permanent corporate-wide) employees, with a few exceptions, must develop, implement and enforce written policies on COVID-19 vaccination for their workforce. Or an employer must establish, implement, and enforce a written policy to allow proof of regular COVID-19 testing and mandatory face coverings instead of vaccination.
- This DOES NOT apply to:
- Settings covered under the healthcare ETS that came out earlier this summer
- Federal workplaces
- Public employers in states without State Plans (such as workplaces covered by PERRP in Ohio, unless PERRP adopts this regulation)
- Even if an employer is covered, the following groups of employees are exempt:
- Employees who do not report to a workplace where other individuals are present
- Employees while working from home
- Employees who work exclusively outdoors
Now is the time for employers to prepare.
The elements of a written plan include:
- Employer’s requirements for COVID-19 vaccination; including exclusions from the written policy (e.g., medical contraindications, medical necessity requiring a delay in vaccination, or reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs).
- Information on determining an employee’s vaccination status and how this information will be collected.
- Paid time and sick leave for vaccination purposes.
- Notification of positive COVID-19 tests and removal of COVID-19 positive employees from the workplace. (Employers are not required to provide paid time off for removal due to positive test or diagnosis of COVID-19.)
- How information will be provided to employees in language and literacy level the employee understands.
- Disciplinary action for employees who do not abide by the policy.
- The policy’s effective date, who the policy applies to, deadlines (e.g., for submitting vaccination information, for getting vaccinated), and procedures for compliance and enforcement).
If weekly testing is permitted in lieu of vaccination, the plan must include testing requirements and requirements for face coverings when working indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.