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CTA – Vaccine Mandate Public Comment Period is Open

COVID-19 Vaccination & Testing: Emergency Temporary Standard

OSHA has issued a new rule called an “emergency temporary standard” which requires employers with over 100 employees to enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or require employees to undergo weekly testing and wear masks. The rule also imposes new mandatory paid leave benefits. It was published on November 5, 2021. The mask mandate will take effect December 6, 2021, as does the requirement for businesses to have a vaccine policy in place. By January 4, 2022, employers will need to either verify vaccination status or start weekly testing.

The new rule also makes it clear that OSHA is considering applying this mandate to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. In soliciting public comment, the rule says “The agency is moving in a stepwise fashion on the short timeline necessitated by the danger presented by COVID-19 while soliciting stakeholder comment and additional information to determine whether to adjust the scope of the ETS to address smaller employers in the future. OSHA seeks information about the ability of employers with fewer than 100 employees to implement COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing programs.”

The US Court of Appeals for the 5th circuit issued a stay (temporary stop) on the mandate, but we have no guarantees on the ultimate outcome of court action. With small businesses already struggling to find enough workers, we need you to weigh in and oppose this rule and the prospects of applying it more widely to small businesses.

This is an important opportunity to make your voice heard on this mandate. To be clear SBAM is supportive of encouraging voluntary vaccinations as an important public health tool. However, we oppose all government mandates that dictate the terms of employment between employers and their employees.

Unfortunately, submitting a public comment is not as simple as sending a form email. You must use the US Federal Government’s online portal, available here. To count, your comment must be submitted before December 6, 2021.

Compelling comments will be constructive, highlight your personal experience as a business owner, and give specific examples to how this mandate would affect your business and daily operations. Below is a sample template to utilize.

Sample Language

On behalf of (business name), I stand opposed to the emergency temporary standard that enforces a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or requires employees undergo regular COVID-19 testing. This action places undue burden on the shoulders of businesses across our nation.

Throughout the pandemic, businesses have stepped up to keep our employees and customers safe. (Provide some examples that your business has implemented).

This mandate will undoubtedly lead to workforce issues in a situation where everyone is struggling to find talent. (Provide some testimony from employees, or ways that you know this will impact your business).

Uncertainty with testing cost and availability also leaves employers in a bind to make sound decisions for their workforce.

Regardless of my opinion on the vaccine itself, I believe a federally issued mandate will only further hurt our business community, crippling our economic recovery. As a member of the Small Business Association of Michigan, I urge OSHA to rescind their emergency ruling and not issue any further federal vaccine mandates.