The Biden administration sets a Jan. 4 vaccination deadline for private sector workers.
According to OSHA’s new requirements, workers are considered fully vaccinated if they’ve received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Companies must provide paid-time off for their employees to get vaccinated and sick leave for side effects as needed. And employers are not required to either pay for or provide tests, though some may still be compelled to do so by other laws or agreements with unions.
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Companies that fail to comply with the rule may be subject to fines, depending on how frequently they violate it and whether violations are intentional, a White House official said. An OSHA penalty is typically $13,653 for every serious violation.
Over the past month, the Department of Labor received feedback on the rule from trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as executives from UPS, the Walt Disney Company, Fidelity Investments and many others. They have voiced concerns about cost, logistics and potential impact on employees.
Requiring vaccines or regular testing “could significantly diminish the labor pool, particularly in some geographic areas and amongst some demographics in which vaccine hesitancy is widespread,” the National Retail Federation wrote to OSHA last month. “NRF members, like employers across the economy, are already struggling to find workers.”
The January deadline allows retailers and logistics companies, both of which are strapped for employees, to get through the holiday shopping season before instituting the requirements. The same deadline applies to federal contractors, who are subject to their own stricter rules, and to health care workers covered by new emergency regulations.
Companies that have already mandated vaccines, including 3M, Procter & Gamble, IBM and the airlines American, Alaska and JetBlue, have not seen a large number of employees quit over the pressure to get inoculated, though a small minority of workers have given up their jobs.
United Airlines, one of the first major air carriers to require shots for its 67,000 U.S. employees, said in September that more than 99 percent of its employees were vaccinated. Tyson Foods, which set a Nov. 1 deadline, said that more than 96 percent of employees were vaccinated, compared with less than 50 percent before it announced its mandate in August.