December 29, 2021
by Kara Cogswell Kidder

Sixth Circuit Upholds Vaccine Mandate for Large Employers

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifted a stay by the Fifth Circuit on President Biden’s federal vaccine mandate for employers with 100 employees or more. The mandate is now set to take effect in 2022 – unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on January 7th in three cases challenging state and federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

The federal mandate applies to employers with at least 100 employees firm- or corporate wide, in all workplaces which fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction. The law requires employers to determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status, and maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. The law also requires employers to provide employees reasonable time to get vaccinated, including up to four hours paid time to receive each vaccination dose, and to provide reasonable time and paid sick leave to recover from side effects. The law further requires employers to ensure that employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly, if they are in the workplace at least once a week. For unvaccinated employees who are not in the office every week, they must be tested within seven days before returning to work.

Given the legal uncertainty surrounding the vaccine mandate, OSHA is extending the time for enforcement. OSHA has announced it will not issue citations for any noncompliance with its Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard prior to January 10, 2022, and will not issue citations for noncompliance with testing requirements prior to February 9, 2022 – so long as employers are “exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”

Questions about how the vaccine mandate will affect your business? Contact Kara Cogswell or another SBH employment attorney at 503-225-5858.

Posted by Kara Cogswell.