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OSHA Suspends Large Employer’s Mandate On COVID-19 Vaccine

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday suspended its requirement that large employers nationwide ensure their workers are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly for the virus by the 4th. January, questioning President Biden’s controversial tenure.

The ruling follows a suspension by the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans granted Friday in a lawsuit to block the warrant filed on behalf of various businesses, religious groups, private citizens and states from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah.

The court granted the stay after concluding that the warrant was “fatally flawed” and the trial likely to succeed.

“Its enactment goes far beyond the statutory authority of OSHA,” the court said.

OSHA said on Wednesday that since the court ordered that it “take no action to implement or enforce” the warrant “until a new court order,” the agency “has suspended related activities to the implementation and application of “the requirement” pending future developments in the litigation. “

“OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in an emergency,” the agency said.

While California does not fall under 5th Circuit Court jurisdiction and is one of 26 states with their own OSHA plans, the suspension is being implemented nationwide.

Cal / OSHA, which was scheduled to meet Thursday to determine how it would implement the mandate in the state, said Wednesday it was following federal OSHA guidelines not to proceed while the suspension is in effect.

OSHA’s proposed mandate would have affected employers of at least 100 full-time and part-time U.S. workers, even though they are scattered in smaller numbers across multiple sites, some 84 million workers, or two-thirds. of the country’s private sector workforce. .

Patrick Kallerman, vice president of research at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said there were more than 15,000 companies in California with more than 100 employees, employing 57.2% of the workforce of the ‘State.

The OSHA ruling does not preclude private employers from implementing their own vaccine requirements, which the courts have upheld, only a comprehensive national and national policy. President Biden has already imposed vaccines or similar tests on federal workers and contractors, the military and federal health care providers.

California has already passed requirements for healthcare workers to be vaccinated and for state workers and teachers to be vaccinated or tested. California lawmakers envisioned a broader vaccine mandate for statewide employees, but did not pass it this year; lawmakers could resume it next year.

Several cities and counties, including San Francisco, Berkeley and Contra Costa County and Los Angeles County, have adopted local requirements for certain employers such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms and dance studios for ensure their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly.

But while business groups have supported vaccine requirements, they have been uncomfortable with the federal and statewide mandate.

Rob Moutrie, a policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, said while the group supported businesses requiring vaccination, he was also concerned that a general mandate would hurt those already struggling with labor shortages. of work.

“The Chamber of Commerce is very supportive of vaccines as a way out of this pandemic,” Moutrie said. “However, we are also very concerned about the labor shortage affecting California businesses and realize that such mandates may have impacts on those labor-shortage industries, including restaurants.”

A major unresolved issue with the proposed mandate, Moutrie added, is whether it would require employers to pay for weekly COVID-19 tests for their unvaccinated workers, which could cost around $ 5,000 per employee.

The proposed federal rule stipulated that employers would not have to cover these costs, but Cal / OSHA generally requires employers to pay for workplace exposure tests, and it was not clear whether California companies would be exempt from paying. pay for COVID- weekly. 19 events. Moutrie says companies think these workers should bear this cost. But with the stay in effect, they won’t get a response anytime soon.

“Uncertainty is never good for business,” Moutrie said. “We are in favor of this being resolved quickly. “