FAQs on the ETS: What OSHA's vaccine mandate means to you.

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On Nov. 4, OSHA issued its much-anticipated COVID vaccine emergency temporary standard, which is currently being debated in the courts (see page 1). Here is a Q&A on the details:

Who is covered?

The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees, measured on a company-wide basis. That includes all part-timers but not independent contractors. The ETS does not apply to federal contractors or health care entities, which are subject to their own (often stricter) mandates.

The vax-or-test mandate does not apply to employees who "do not report to a workplace where other individuals are present, employees while working at home, or employees who work exclusively outdoors."

What does the ETS require?

The ETS gives employers a choice: Either mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID (allowing, of course, for legal religious or medical exemptions) or adopt a policy requiring all employees to elect either to get vaccinated or to undergo weekly testing--and wear a face covering at work--in lieu of vaccination.

If an employee is not fully vaccinated, they cannot work in the workplace unless tested at least once every seven days. The test cannot be self-administered or self-read unless observed by the employer. Importantly, the ETS does not require employers to pay for this COVID testing.

What are the deadlines and the penalties?

By Dec. 5, covered employers must establish a policy on vaccinations, determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain proof of vaccination and maintain records of each employee's vax status. Then, the ETS says, covered employers will need to ensure that their employees have received their final vaccine doses on or before Jan. 4.

If covered employers have decided to permit a testing option for unvaccinated employees, the requirement to test also begins on Jan. 4.

Employers may face penalties of up to $13,635 for each serious violation, or $136,532 for deliberate, willful violations. The ETS will be in place for at least six months.

What proof of vaccination is required?

Employers are required to obtain proof of vaccination from employees. Acceptable proof includes a vaccine card or a record from a doctor or pharmacy (or other medical record).

If an employee is unable to produce such records, you can accept a signed/dated attestation document from the employee indicating their vaccinated status. The attestation must include acknowledgement that the employee is subject to criminal penalties for lying...

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