Biden government will release details on corporate vaccine mandate in a few days


U.S. President Joe Biden removes his mask to make remarks on the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements during a visit to a Clayco construction site in Elk Grove Village, Ill., October 7, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The Biden government will publish a rule in the coming days that obliges private companies to ensure that their employees are vaccinated against Covid-19, the Ministry of Labor said on Monday.

The rule applies to companies with 100 or more employees. It is estimated that around two thirds of the private sector workforce is affected.

The development comes immediately after the White House issued separate vaccine enforcement guidelines for federal contractors that apply to millions of workers.

Unless they create a plan that allows workers to get regular tests and wear a mask at work, companies must develop and enforce a mandatory Covid vaccination policy, according to a spokesman for the Department of Labor.

The mandate also provides that employers give workers paid time for vaccinations and paid sick leave to recover from side effects.

White House officials in the Office of Management of Budget have held dozens of meetings with industry lobbyists and unions over the past few weeks to review the rule. The OMB completed its review on Monday and the mandate is expected to come into effect after publication in the federal register.

“The federal register will publish the preliminary emergency standard in the coming days,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Labor on Monday.

The occupational health and safety authority that will enforce the mandate is developing a regulation under emergency authority that enables the agency to bypass the normally lengthy process of issuing new occupational safety standards. OSHA can use this emergency authority if the Secretary of Labor determines that a new hazard exposes workers to serious danger.

Almost every Republican attorney general in the country has threatened to sue the Biden administration over the mandate.

Business groups have asked the administration to postpone the mandate until after the busy holiday season, amid concerns that workers may quit instead of following the new rules, potentially exacerbating already tight staffing levels and causing supply chain disruptions. Former OSHA officials told CNBC companies that they will likely have some time to implement the rules.

The AFL-CIO, which represents the country’s largest trade union group, has asked the White House to include additional worker protections in the mandate, such as being followed if necessary.

Here is the full statement from the Department of Labor spokesman:

“The occupational safety and health authority has worked quickly to develop a temporary emergency standard that covers employers with 100 or more employees company-wide or company-wide and shows options for compliance. Affected employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring workers to either get vaccinated or have regular COVID-19 tests and at work wearing a face covering paid sick leave to recover from side effects. On November 1st, the Office of Management and Budget completed its regulatory review of the temporary emergency standard. The federal register will publish the temporary emergency standard in the coming days. “