What the OSHA COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirements mean for small businesses
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that requires that all business with 100 or more employees protect their workers from COVID-19. These business will be required to ensure that all employees are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly.
Here’s what you need to know.
Who is affected by the requirement?
Private employers with 100 or more employees in the company, regardless of the number of locations, will be subject to the requirements of the ETS. This represents two-thirds of private sector employees, according to the Department of Labor. Employers who have fewer than 100 total employees are not covered. Some workplaces, such as federal contractors and healthcare providers, may already be covered under other requirements, such as the Healthcare ETS or Guidance for Federal Contractors.
When does the standard take effect?
The standard became effective on November 5, 2021. Employers are required to take certain steps within 30 days, and others within 60 days, or face fines from OSHA. Within 30 days, employers must:
- Establish their vaccination policy
- Determine and document the vaccination status of each employee
- Provide support for employees to get vaccinated. This means paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any vaccine-related side effects
- Require that employees provide timely notice if they have a COVID-19 diagnosis or positive test result
- Require employees who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask or other face covering when they are indoors on in a vehicle with others
- Provide information to employees about the standard
- Report work-related COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities to OSHA
- Make certain records available.
Within 60 days, employers must make sure employees who are not fully vaccinated are test at least weekly, or within 7 days of returning to work after an absence of a week or more. Find more information on the key dates here.
What happens if I don’t comply?
Employers can face fines of up to $14,000 for failing to comply with the emergency temporary standard.
For more information on the emergency temporary standard on vaccination and testing, and other information about protecting employees from the COVID-19 virus, visit the OSHA website.