WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a deadline of January 4, 2022 to comply with the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate covering large employers, threatening hefty fines for companies that fail to meet that date.
President Joe Biden had originally announced in September that businesses which employ 100 workers or more – covering over two-thirds of employers nationwide – would be required to have all employees be fully vaccinated, or submit them to regular testing and mask wearing.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said at the time. “While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office… We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for a while.”
OSHA’s enforcement announcement – made on Thursday, via a fact sheet released by the White House – is expected to be quickly challenged in court by Republican states and business groups.
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The penalties for non-compliance with the vaccination mandate, according to OSHA, could result in fines of up to $14,000 per violation, and repeat offenders could rack up multiple fines of that amount very quickly.
In addition, the White House stated that the federal vaccination mandate will “preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing.”
Another COVID-19 vaccination mandate is set to go into effect on January 4 as well; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will require workers in Medicare and Medicaid facilities to have received the jab by that date. However, unlike the OSHA rule, CMS is not allowing workers to opt-out in favor of regular testing and mask wearing. Exemptions are being allowed for religious or medical reasons, however.
Health care facilities who violate the CMS rule come January 4 could find themselves denied Medicaid and Medicare payments, or booted from the programs altogether.