5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Workplace Vaccine Mandate

The action plan will help you navigate the impending OSHA rule.

September 13, 2021

Coronavirus Vaccination ID Card

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Last Thursday, the Biden Administration announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will soon issue a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to either ensure their workers are vaccinated or require unvaccinated employees to produce a weekly negative test result before coming to work. It’s estimated that 80 million workers, or two-thirds of the country’s workforce, will be impacted by the rule, according to law firm Fisher-Phillips.

In light of the announcement, many employers are left unsure how to navigate these unchartered waters. Fisher-Phillips lays out a five-step action plan for employers to implement immediately.

  1. Adopt procedures for determining employees’ vaccination status: Employers should be ready to implement an organized, confidential process to determine vaccination status, and companies are OK to ask employees about COVID-19 vaccination status as indicated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  2. Determine if you will mandate the vaccine or allow unvaccinated employees to be tested weekly: Some employers may choose to not allow weekly testing, as it could be onerous to collect and keep track of test results.
  3. Develop a plan for handling accommodation requests: Employers who plan to have a mandated vaccination policy must also have a detailed, crystal clear accommodation policy for any employee exempted from the vaccine for religious or disability reasons. Companies who implement weekly testing will also need an accommodation policy.
  4. Have a plan for tracking test results: Employers who do decide to allow weekly testing will not only need to have a set plan to track the test results, but they also need to find out if they will have to cover the cost to test. Non-exempt workers also must get paid for time spent getting tested, according to FLSA.
  5. Prepare for OSHA complaints and inspections: Any existing OSHA and CDC compliances in place at a company relating to the mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 will need to stay in place, as a mandated vaccine and/or weekly testing policy does not negate these compliances. OSHA could ask for an employer’s COVID-19 response plan and training records if it receives a complaint or inspects a workplace. Employers should have a COVID-19 policy and communicate it to employees, and those in charge should be trained on how to handle an OSHA visit.

Fisher-Phillips is holding an emergency national webinar on the impending OSHA rule on Tuesday, September 14, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss these issues in depth.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.