The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) covers employers with 100 or more employees. OSHA announced a rule that companies who have 100 or more employees must ensure that their workforce is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on or before January 4, 2022, or they must test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week.

A second rule, which applies to employers participating in Medicare or Medicaid, will require all employees to be vaccinated with no weekly testing option. The only exceptions would be medical or religious exemptions. This rule will impact around 17 million healthcare workers (source). This rule also takes effect January 4, 2022.

In addition, employers must give employees paid time off to receive their vaccinations or to deal with potential minor side effects affiliated with the vaccine. Employers are not required to pay for employees’ weekly COVID tests unless a collective bargaining agreement, state law, or local ordinance or regulation requires the same. Currently, 30 of 50 states are requiring employers to pay for tests (even though the federal government does not require employers pay). The federal law does not require the employer offer a testing option. Hence, a lot of employers may simply go with the vaccine mandate only and accommodate for religious or medical reasons.

All non-vaccinated employees must wear masks in the workplace starting December 5, 2021. Employers are required to enforce masking rules for non-vaccinated employees. Officials said that penalties for non-compliance with OSHA’s rule could include fines based on the number of violations and range up to approximately $14,000 for a single violation. Fines are significantly higher for employers who willfully violate standards.