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What to Know about the Federal Employer Vaccine and Testing Mandate

Last week, the Biden administration released the details of its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to require employers with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or test for COVID-19 at least weekly. Several states have already filed lawsuits against the mandate and a federal appeals panel issued a temporary stay Saturday.

But many employers are beginning to prepare for the ETS to take effect as they face a Dec. 5 deadline to allow employees paid time off to get vaccinated and require unvaccinated workers to wear masks.

So, what does the ETS say? Employers with 100 or more employees must:

  • Provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated by Dec. 5.
  • Require unvaccinated workers to wear masks by Dec. 5.
  • Ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or be subject to weekly testing. Employees who are not fully vaccinated after Jan. 4 must produce a verified negative test on at least a weekly basis. Employers may be required to pay for testing “because of other laws or collective bargaining agreements.” As of now, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has yet to clarify on an employer’s financial obligations to provide testing.

Additionally, health care workers who work at facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid must also be fully vaccinated or qualify for an exemption by Jan. 4. There is no weekly testing option for health care workers.

We will keep you updated on the outcome of the stay, but we want to emphasize that the ETS has not been repealed. The ETS has only been temporarily suspended. It’s important to note that the deadlines issued by OSHA could remain in effect if courts rule in favor of OSHA.

Here’s a list of some FAQs, resources and tools to help employers comply.

 Do you know any resources that may help other employers? Share them with us at communications@denverchamber.org.