On October 13, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent their COVID-19 Vaccination Rule to the White House for review. In anticipation of the adoption of these rules, Alterity ADR mediator Shalanna Pirtle, Amy Ciscrow-Peterson (Assistant General Counsel, Rack Room Shoes), and Michael Thomas (Principal, Jackson Lewis) conducted a LinkedIn Live discussion regarding how employers and employees alike can prepare for the issuance of these rules. The event was well attended and viewed by hundreds of people who had additional questions for the panel. Those questions and their answers appear below.
Answers to Your Questions
It’s been said that employers will be expected to provide paid time off to employees to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects of the vaccination. Who determines what are side effects and is this paid time off, in addition, to already established paid leave?
We expect “side effects” will be loosely defined. As long as an individual can demonstrate that he or she received one dose of the shot and was feeling poorly enough not to work thereafter, that will likely be sufficient.
What should employers be doing to prepare for the ETS? Should employers consider hiring or training a specific point person for the ETS?
- Communicate early and often
- Be prepared to respond to increased remote work requests from employees seeking to avoid vaccination and weekly testing
- Vaccine Policy – if you don’t already have one, put one in place. Needn’t be lengthy, one page probably covers it all
- Start thinking about HOW you will track employee compliance – one centralized repository is best
- Plan how to handle employees who don’t comply – suspension or unpaid leave to start/termination of employment after period of time?
- Train HR employees in advance on how to manage the vaccine/testing tracking
What should employees be doing to prepare for the ETS?
As we discussed during the live discussion, there are several things employees can do to prepare mentally and logistically:
- Remember this is not a personal attack by your employer. Once the ETS becomes effective, employers will be required to comply or face fines/penalties. Your employer is simply taking the steps it needs to comply.
- Don’t take your frustrations out on HR reps, who are just following orders.
- If you choose not to get fully vaccinated, make a weekly testing plan – set it for the same time and make appointments weeks in advance, especially if you live in an area with limited testing locations.
- If you choose not to vaccinate or test, be prepared to potentially lose your job.