The Biden Administration on Thursday, November 4 directed US companies with a workforce of over 100 to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly after January 4. The enforcement of the COVID-19 related workplace guidelines has garnered opposition from Republican governors who aim to file a suit against the vaccine mandate.
Citing infringement of individual freedom, the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama along with other private plaintiffs plan to legally challenge the regulations under the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) using the Congressional Review Act. “The federal government can’t just unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis commented.
The administration has also pushed back the deadline for requiring all federal contractors to ensure that their employees are vaccinated from December 8 to January 4, to dispel concerns of a shortage of workers over the year-end holidays.
Moreover, workers employed under the US government’s Medicare and Medicaid programmes will also need to comply with the new vaccine guidelines by the January deadline.
Issued under the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency authority over workplace safety, the mandate will apply to 84.2 million workers employed by 1.9 million private-sector employers. However, over 18.5 million workers employed by private-sector employers will be exempted from the rule as they work remotely or outside of the office.
In a statement released shortly afterwords, US President Joe Biden stated that he did not prefer for the requirements to become a necessity. However, the high number of unvaccinated people in the country will hamper the end of the pandemic, thus mandating instituted requirements.
OSHA estimated the number of unvaccinated workers covered under the mandate to be 31.7 million. 60 per cent of all employers in the US will also be covered under the vaccine mandate, up from 25 per cent when the guidelines were issued only for federal contractors. OSHA thus expects the rule to lead to the vaccination of 22.7 million employees.