OSHA releases details on federal vaccine mandate

U.S. businesses with more than 100 employees previously faced a Dec. 4 worker vaccine deadline, but updated federal guidance gives employees an extra month to either get a COVID-19 shot or opt into weekly virus testing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published nearly 500 pages of regulations on how companies, federal employees, and federal contractors should comply with the federal vaccine mandate, which President Joe Biden announced in September.

The regulations do not apply to those working from home or in outdoor jobs. OSHA stipulates that companies do not need to pay for weekly testing but must mandate masks for unvaccinated employees and offer paid time off to get vaccinated starting Dec. 5.

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The testing option does not apply to roughly 17 million healthcare workers under a separate Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule. 

How will this work? Businesses and federal contractors who do not comply with the mandate must pay $14,000 for each infraction, with higher fees for intentional noncompliance.

However, OSHA faces an inspector shortage, with only 1,850 inspectors to oversee 130 million U.S. workers at 8 million workplaces. It has not clarified how it will enforce the mandate.

More than two dozen Republican state attorneys general have threatened to contest the regulations in court. 

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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