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Wait Or Prepare? The Best Strategy for Employers to Deal with The Vaccine Mandate

In early November, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its regulations to implement the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. As soon as OSHA announced its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), they were challenged in federal court.

Starting on December 6, companies with more than 100 employees need to confirm their team’s vaccination status. Where are we now with regards to the new COVID-19 mandate?

Standards For Employers and Legal Challenges

A few weeks after OSHA announced its temporary emergency standards for implementing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the first deadline for compliance was only a few days away. As of December 6, private employers with more than 100 employees must ask those team members covered by the directive to be fully vaccinated. Those who opt out of vaccination have to wear a face-covering and (from January 2022) agree to weekly COVID-19 testing.

However, after the standards release, several federal states, companies, and other stakeholders filed legal challenges in federal courts. The Fifth Circuit Court halted the implementation of the standards. As all obstacles related to the same issue, a national judicial panel assigned the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to rule on the lawsuits.

At the same time, OSHA agreed to refrain from enforcing the ETS until the courts have ruled on their validity.

Prepare Or Wait?

Employers covered by the mandate and their HR teams have to decide whether to continue their preparations or wait. The courts may change the details of the OSHA regulations or even throw them out, but they may also choose to reinstate the original ETS.

Legal experts believe that the ETS will most likely survive to some degree. Consequently, employers may face challenges if they do nothing now.

On the other hand, some attorneys believe that OSHA’s commitment not to enforce the regulations for the moment gives employers some breathing space. However, even legal professionals who favor a wait-and-see approach recommend that employers continue making plans to comply.

Full compliance with the ETS will take most employers several weeks. Even if the implementation of the standards is delayed, preparing now will stand them in good stead when dates are confirmed.

Beyond Vaccination and Testing

It is worth remembering that the ETS intends to keep the American workforce safe by preventing unnecessary illness and death from COVID-19. Having a national standard helps employers with branches throughout the country by preempting inconsistent local or state rules coming into effect.

Another element worth considering is that the standards are temporary. Once they take effect, they can only remain in place for six months. By then, OSHA needs to suggest a permanent measure, following a notice-and-comment period.

We can expect the standards adjustments, but they are unlikely to be replaced entirely.

First Step: Vaccination Verification

The first deadline of the ETS relates to vaccination policies and vaccination verification. Even if the implementation is delayed, creating a company-wide vaccination policy, and disseminating it across your team will take time. Starting now will help your business avoid costly penalties later.

The same is true for vaccination verification, but technology makes this step easier for employers and HR teams.

Easy to implement digital solutions like the vaccination verification platform from TrueCare™ help HR teams to check your employee’s vaccination status within minutes.

Each employee accesses the platform via an app on their phone. From there, they can upload their vaccination documents.

All your HR team needs to do is verify the documents and change the employee’s status. Even if you have a large group, you will overview the vaccinated employees within just a few days.

This overview can be broken down by location, making it easy to see where managers need to mandate face coverings or offer vaccinations.

Second Step: COVID-19 Testing

Vaccination verification automatically helps you prepare for the second step – providing weekly COVID-19 testing.

Having verified each individual’s vaccination status allows you to plan testing logistics before compliance is required. No matter the size of your company, TrueCare™ can support your company in setting up testing facilities and conducting regular testing.

Summary

The provisions of the ETS reach beyond vaccination verification and testing. They include establishing a written policy on related procedures and regular employee communications. In addition, employers need to ensure they are aware of COVID-19 associated hospitalizations and deaths among their teams.

Complying with these far-reaching standards is impossible to achieve within a few days. For that reason alone, employers are well-advised to continue to prepare for timely implementation.

Verify the vaccination status of the people in your organization and record any specific exemptions.

 

About TrueCare™ 

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.

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