OSHA Suspends Vaccine Mandate

A picture of a general woman getting a vaccine

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Nov. 17 suspended enforcement of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees.

The mandate was halted after a federal appeals court upheld a stay on it last week.

In a statement posted to the OSHA website, the agency expressed confidence in its power to protect employees during a pandemic. However, it is suspending mandate-related activities in light of the pending litigation.

“The court ordered that OSHA ‘take no steps to implement or enforce’ the testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) ‘until further court order,’” the agency stated. “While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.”

On Nov. 4, OSHA set Jan. 4 as the deadline for employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. Unvaccinated employees would be required to wear a face mask in the workplace under the ETS.

If the mandate is implemented, employers with 100 or more employees will be required to ensure all employees not receiving weekly testing are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or face fines starting at $13,653 per offense. Willfully non-compliant companies or repeat offenders could face upward of $136,532 fines per offense, according to a White House statement.

Unvaccinated employees would need to provide a verified negative test to their employer on a weekly basis.

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