Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Under the ETS, employers with over 100 employees must ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. To maintain compliance and avoid fines, many large employers want to know what they need to do to meet the new testing mandates.
1) Create a Vaccination Policy
Under the ETS, employers are required to develop, implement, and enforce a COVID-19 policy that requires employees vaccinated against the virus or a policy that allows unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing and wear a face mask in the workplace.
In addition to the vaccination or testing requirements, the policy must require employees to notify employers if they test positive or are diagnosed with COVID-19. The policy must detail the procedure for employees to follow if they are infected with the virus.
2) Maintain Records
Employers are responsible for getting each employee’s vaccination status, obtaining proof of vaccination, maintaining records of employees’ vaccination status, and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. Employers can confirm their vaccination status by requesting a copy of their employee’s vaccine card, reviewing their employee’s vaccination record, or signing an attestation of vaccination. Employees that don’t provide proof of vaccination should be treated as if they are unvaccinated.
Employers are also required to maintain records of the weekly testing required by unvaccinated employees. Employers should also remember to treat these records, along with those related to an employee’s vaccination status, as they would any other confidential medical records.
3) Remove Employees Positive for COVID-19 From Worksite
Employers must require employees to promptly provide notice to the employer when they test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID by a licensed health care provider. They must remove infected employees from the worksite until they meet the criteria to return to work. Employers may allow employees back on-site when they meet one of the following criteria to return to work:
- The employee receives a specific negative confirmatory test
- Meet the criteria in the CDC’s “Isolation Guidance”
- Receive a recommendation to return to work from a licensed health care provider
4) Support Vaccine Mandate
Employers are required to provide workers who are not fully vaccinated with reasonable time to get vaccinated, including up to four hours, of paid time to receive each dose of the vaccine. They are also required to provide paid sick leave to employees to recover from any side effects that follow each dose.
Under the ETS, employers are not required to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing, should they allow employees the option to consent to weekly testing. Nor are they required to provide paid time off to employees that test positive for COVID. However, they should check with the state, local, or other applicable laws and regulations.
5) Provide Employees With Appropriate Information Regarding the ETS
Employers must provide employees with relevant and current information about the ETS in a language and at a literacy level that the employee understands. Doing so ensures employees understand their rights and responsibilities and their employer’s policies and procedures.
The information must include information about employees’ protections from retaliation and discrimination, information about the available COVID-19 vaccines, laws related to criminal penalties for supplying false statements, and the potential penalties for providing false information to their employer.
For More Information
For more information on how employers can comply with OSHA’s ETS, please review the “COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard.“