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OSHA Issues COVID-19 Workplace Vaccine and Testing Mandate

Norfolk, VA | Friday, November 05, 2021 | Posted in Employer News & Webinars

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) relating to COVID vaccinations has been released and will be published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2021. Below are some key provisions that may affect our employer clients.

Who Does the OSHA ETS Apply To?

The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees.

What Does the OSHA ETS Require?

  • That each worker is fully vaccinated or tests for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis.
  • That these employers provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and if needed, sick leave to recover from side effects of the vaccine that keep them from working.
  • That all unvaccinated workers wear a face mask in the workplace.
  • The ETS does not require employers to provide or pay for tests. However, under some state or local laws or collective bargaining agreements, employers may be required to pay for testing.*

*Currently, Virginia employers must pay for the cost of COVID-19 testing of their employees if the testing is required as a condition of employment.

Do the OSHA ETS Requirements Affect Any Other Employee Groups?

Earlier this year, vaccine legislation and guidance was developed for:

  • Healthcare Workers – The CMS Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule addresses vaccines for health care workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Federal Employees and Federal Contractors – Executive Order 14042 and the Safer Workforce Taskforce guidance addresses vaccines for federal employees and federal contractors.

The legislation/guidance for healthcare workers, federal employees, and federal contractors included compliance deadlines. To make it easier for businesses and workers to comply, it was also announced today that the deadline for workers to receive their vaccines will be the same for the OSHA ETS rule, the CMS rule, and the federal contractor vaccination requirement. Employees falling under the ETS, CMS, or federal contractor rules will need to have their final vaccination dose – either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson – by January 4, 2022.

And while the testing requirement for unvaccinated workers will begin after January 4th, employers must be in compliance with all other requirements – such as providing paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and masking for unvaccinated workers – on December 5,2021.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

The information presented here is a brief summary of complicated information that may be subject to change and legal challenges. We recommend that if any of the vaccine requirements affect your company, you continue to monitor the situation and seek legal guidance where warranted.

Additional Resources:

Summary of the OSHA ETS

COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS FAQs


The information herein should not be construed as legal or tax advice in any way. This content is provided for informational purposes only. You should seek the advice of your attorney or tax consultant for additional or specific information.