Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for 84 million workers is back in effect

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Workers at organisations with 100 or more employees must be vaccinated against Covid or undergo weekly testing, according to a Biden administration directive.

On Friday evening, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay on the regulation. The regulation was halted on Nov. 6, only one day after the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it.

Republican-led states, companies, religious organisations, and some individuals sued the Biden administration in dozens of lawsuits around the country, alleging overreach. They claim, among other things, that OSHA lacks the legal power to make a rule on a societal-wide health issue that extends well beyond the workplace. Even if decreasing the risk of Covid is important, they argue that it is not always a “grave threat,” as OSHA has determined. They also claimed that complying with the law would be costly and potentially result in a labour shortage.

The petitioners’ injuries were determined to be “completely hypothetical” by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit, and the costs of delaying the rule’s adoption to be comparably significant.

“Fundamentally, the rule is an important step in curtailing the spread of a deadly virus that has killed over 800,000 people in the United States, brought our healthcare system to its knees, forced businesses to close for months on end, and cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs,” wrote Obama appointee Circuit Judge Jane B. Stranch.

“Any irreversible injury to individual petitioners who may be subject to a vaccination policy exceeds any harm to the government and the public interest,” she stated.

As predicted, hundreds of corporate and religious organisations had petitioned the Supreme Court for a second emergency stay by Saturday morning.

The National Retail Federation said it will continue to train its members to comply with this “onerous rule,” but that doing so over the holiday season would be impossible.

The White House praised the appeals court’s ruling, saying it will guarantee that firms take steps to protect employees.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant makes it “essential we move forward with vaccine mandates and worker safeguards with the urgency needed in this time,” according to the White House.

Before midnight, the Labor Department said that OSHA will not issue penalties for noncompliance with the testing requirement until February 9, “so long as an employer is making reasonable, good faith efforts to comply” with the regulation.

In the six months that the vaccine-or-test regulation would be in force, OSHA calculated that it would save over 6,500 deaths and avoid over 250,000 hospitalizations.

In addition to the vaccine and testing requirements, the regulation mandates that employers establish who among their employees is vaccinated and impose a mask demand for those who aren’t. The new deadline for such actions has been set on January 10th.

In terms of private employers, the verdict is a huge win for the Biden administration.

Companies who introduced vaccine requirements on their own earlier this year witnessed a huge increase in immunisation rates among their employees. Tyson Foods and United Airlines both had immunisation rates of above 95%. Neither company provided a testing option to their employees.

Attempts by the Biden administration to require immunizations for health-care employees and federal contractors are presently being challenged in court. Its mandate for health care employees at institutions that accept Medicaid or Medicare financing is still blocked in approximately half of the states, and its obligation for government contractors is still blocked across the country. These matters may end up in front of the Supreme Court.

Find out how HealthBoxHR can help your business prepare for the OSHA mandate with our Vaccination & Test Tracking feature.

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