On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced as part of his COVID-19 Action Plan that all employers with more than 100 employees will be required to implement a COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy to comply with an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard. This Emergency Temporary Standard – also known as an ETS – is estimated to impact 80 million employees and nearly two-thirds of America’s workforce.
What the ETS will also do is force government-mandated workplace policies on countless employers who should have the ability to determine their own rules on vaccination and testing for COVID-19. A heavy-handed government workplace policy is not the right approach because it fails to account for the individual circumstances of each employer. For example, this OSHA mandate may strain some companies’ ability to find workers and for others, it may exacerbate their ability to meet production goals due to employees walking out rather than complying with the new workplace policy.
At the Ohio Chamber, we have listened to our members’ concerns about the Biden proposal and have worked to make sure their voices are heard. On behalf of our member companies, the Ohio Chamber has had many conversations with federal officials about this rule including Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the White House.
In each of these conversations, we have highlighted our major issues with the proposed ETS including how will it define who is an employee, how will employers verify an employee’s vaccination status, and what constitutes a vaccine-related injury that makes a person eligible for paid time off. In addition to these questions, we also shared our belief the ETS should contain a safe harbor provision that protects employers when an employee engages in fraudulent behavior such as presenting a fake vaccine card. The Ohio Chamber also opposes the significant penalty of nearly $14,000 for each violation.
You can read more about all of the Ohio Chamber’s concerns and questions here.
While the final details of the proposed OSHA ETS have yet to be released, the Ohio Chamber is committed to continuing to advocate for the ability of all Ohio businesses to set their own COVID-19 vaccination and testing policies free from government interference regardless of whether the proposal is coming from the Statehouse or the White House.