The Biden administration has urged U.S. businesses to ensure that their staff are completely vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 on a regular basis by January 4th. The new guidelines, announced by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), apply to organizations with 100 or more employees.
Business groups had urged the administration to postpone the mandate until after the busy holiday season, worried that workers would choose to quit rather than follow the rules, causing even more disruption to the already stressed supply chain and tight labor market.
The National Retail Federation, for example, which had requested a 90-day implementation delay, warned that the rule would disrupt the economy and “exacerbate the already-existing manpower shortfall.”
The Retail Industry Leaders Association called the implementation time “inadequate,” and the potential fines for noncompliance “unnecessary and unhelpful,” saying that “it sets government against private companies rather than engaging with them to promote a safe working environment.”
Furthermore, the Biden administration may face legal challenges from both sides of the debate: those who want the mandate repealed and those who want it expanded. Republicans and business lobbyists have argued that the current threat from Covid-19 is not as serious as the Biden administration claims. On the other hand, the AFL-CIO, which represents the largest organization of unions in the United States, has campaigned for even further protections to be included in the rule, such as ventilation standards, physical separation where necessary, and paid leave for workers who contract Covid-19.