Many businesses have struggled with the decision on whether to require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Companies such as Google, McDonald’s, Delta Airlines, Microsoft, NBC, and Netflix have already made vaccination, or proof of vaccination, mandatory. Designed to protect from the potential transmission, the requirement has created many challenges, especially around exemptions. Until now, businesses have enjoyed the freedom of deciding independently whether to require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, on November 4th, the Biden Administration unveiled a new vaccine mandate that applies to companies with over 100 employees. The new policy issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also requires paid time off to be provided to employees to receive inoculation. The policy has been met with resistance as a legal challenge has been filed by several states. Although it is unclear what will happen, the policy provides important insight for Denver businesses on the potential expenses which may be forced upon them. To help clients, prospects, and others, Hanson & Co has provided a summary of the key details below.
Key Policy Details
- Vaccination Requirement – A covered employer, one with over 100 employees, is required to mandate that all unvaccinated employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination by January 4, 2021. This means that all employees must have received all the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For those that do not receive the vaccine, employers are required to conduct at least weekly testing to identify any infections. It is important to note that employers are not required to pay for testing services. Any employee that tests positive must be removed from the workplace and may not return until they meet established criteria.
- Determination of Employee Vaccination – The vaccination status of each employee must be determined and documented. Covered employers are required to obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status, and maintain a roster of all employees’ vaccination status.
- Paid Time Off – Covered employers will be also required to provide paid time off for employees (up to 4 hours) to get vaccinated, and if needed, sick leave time to recover from side effects that may prevent them from working (for each dose).
- Non-Vaccinated Employees – The new rules also require employers to ensure that non-vaccinated employees wear a face covering when indoors or when occupying a work vehicle except in certain circumstances. Employers are not allowed to prevent any employee regardless of the vaccination status from voluntarily wearing a face-covering unless it creates a workplace hazard.
- OSHA Reporting & Recordkeeping – Finally, a covered employer is required to report any employee COVID-19 related hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning about it. Employers are also required to make available for examination COVID-19 vaccine documentation and test results. Finally, information on the vaccinated employees along with the total number of employees at a workplace must also be made available.
It is important to note the new law preempts any state or local requirements that may ban or limit a business from requiring vaccinations, face coverings, or testing.
The legal challenges to the recently announced mandate mean it is possible the specific details will change over the coming weeks. However, it does provide insight into the potential requirements, expenses, and compliance challenges Denver companies may soon face. If you have questions about the information outlined above or need assistance with an accounting or tax issue, Hanson & Co can help. For additional information call us at 303-388-1010 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.