The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it is withdrawing its emergency temporary standard (ETS), which required employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers were either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submitting to weekly COVID-19 testing. The announcement comes just two weeks after the United States Supreme Court’s decision to block OSHA from enforcing the ETS.
Although large employers can breathe a sigh of relief in light of this announcement, they aren’t completely out of the woods. OSHA is only withdrawing the ETS “as an enforceable emergency temporary standard” and the agency is “not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule.” OSHA maintains that it is “prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.”
What Does This Mean for Your Organization?
- Large employers should consult with legal counsel to determine whether they have compliance obligations under other applicable federal or state vaccination regulations. (For instance, the Supreme Court recently held that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has the authority to issue and enforce COVID-19 vaccine requirements for staff in covered facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.)
- OSHA’s announcement does not preclude employers from implementing their own vaccination policy, provided the policy complies with federal and state law.
- As OSHA has advised that it is working on issuing a “permanent” COVID-19 plan, employers should stay abreast of news pertaining to vaccine mandates.