Blog, Business Climate, COVID-19, News Alert, Newsletter|

On Thursday, the Biden Administration announced a January 4, 2022 deadline for all businesses that have at least 100 employees to require vaccinations or weekly tests for their employees. This deadline also applies to employees of federal contractors and health care workers.

This mandate, developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will apply to tens of thousands of employees in Montana and millions of workers across the nation. You can read OSHA’s summary of the mandate here.

Employees who remain unvaccinated will be required to produce negative tests weekly, submit their negative test each week, and remain masked at their workplace at all times.

Businesses may be subject to OSHA inspections to ensure the workplace complies with the rule and fines of up to $13,653 per violation. These fines could increase to $70,000 per violation if the reconciliation bill currently under consideration in Congress passes, as it contains a provision to modify the standard OSHA penalties.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Deadline is January 4, 2022: Employers must ensure that their workers are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or that they test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week thereafter.
  • Employers must offer paid time off for vaccination: Employers must begin providing paid time off for vaccination and recovery from side effects by December 5, 2021.
  • Employers don’t need to pay for testing: The OSHA rule does not require employers to pay for testing unless they are otherwise obligated to do so by state or local laws or union contracts.
  • Unvaccinated people must wear masks: Starting December 5th, unvaccinated workers must also wear face coverings while on the job.

The Montana Chamber and other business groups are evaluating the practical impact of the OSHA rule when paired with Montana’s HB 702, legislation passed in 2021 that prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status.

In response to the announcement, Montana Chamber President and CEO Todd O’Hair released the following statement:

“President Biden’s vaccine mandate will create a devastating blow to our economic recovery efforts and puts Montana businesses at a competitive disadvantage with businesses that are not subject to the arbitrary 100-employee count. The Chamber continues to be a strong advocate for vaccination to control the spread of the virus, but not carried on the backs of business. The recent filing of the OSHA emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to mandate vaccines or testing is an attack on employers’ rights.”

In response to the Biden administration’s announcement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host a special briefing on the mandate TOMORROW, November 5, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. ET. To register, please CLICK HERE to register now.

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