A Shot in the Arm

President Biden has announced a plan that will affect companies with 100 or more employees. It appears those companies will either need to mandate vaccinations for employees or have unvaccinated employees tested weekly. This hasn’t taken effect yet and the final ruling or regulation will come from OSHA (the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or the state versions of OSHA, such as Cal/OSHA.

While it may be 2-3 months before Biden’s plan goes into effect, you need to start preparing now. Even if your company has fewer than 100 employees, we don’t know what the future will bring so you may want to pay attention.

As we’ve mentioned before, companies need to retain the proof of vaccination for any employee to go without a mask at work. Develop your system for obtaining that proof and ensuring the information is kept confidential as a medical document. Plus, once it’s considered an OSHA-related medical document, you’ll be required to keep that proof for 30 years after the employee is no longer employed by you. Obviously, some long-term planning will be needed.

Now is also the time to start talking about whether you will choose to mandate vaccinations or, instead, pay for employees to test weekly. Given that California law ensures the employee pays for nothing as your employee, it is expected you will be responsible for paying for both the cost of weekly testing and the employee’s time to be tested. Weekly.

If you are considering mandating vaccinations, you’ll need to prepare for religious and disability issues. Learn how to have those discussions with employees by speaking with your employment law attorney or HR consultant. While mandating vaccinations is completely legal and has been tested in court, the possible exemptions are trickier. You’ll need to be very careful to avoid making a decision based on asking the wrong questions.

Change is on the horizon and we all need to prepare. Biden’s plan is the next attempt to control this pandemic. However, as a business owner, you’ll be the one on the ground trying to implement the plan successfully and it’s unlikely to be easy.

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