President Joe Biden announced Thursday that a rule is being developed to require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure workers are vaccinated or test them weekly.
The president previously mandated vaccines for federal government workers and contractors, noting that they’d need to confirm their vaccination status or undergo various hurdles such as testing. The president signed an executive order expanding on this rule and mandating that all federal executive branch workers be vaccinated, the senior administration officials said. Biden spoke about his “six-pronged strategy” in a speech Thursday evening.
In addition to limiting the loopholes for unvaccinated federal government workers and contractors, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule aimed at private sector businesses. Anyone running a business with 100 or more employees will need to make sure workers are vaccinated or require weekly testing for unvaccinated employees, senior administration officials explained prior to Biden’s remarks.
This new requirement will affect over 80 million workers in the private sector, officials said. Violating the rule could result in a fine of thousands of dollars per employee.
“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this,” Biden said. “United Airlines, Disney, Tyson food and even Fox News. The bottom line: we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’ll reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that’s vaccinated in businesses all across America.”
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. Your refusal has cost all of us. Please, do the right thing,” the president added.
OSHA is also working to develop a rule regarding paid time off. Employers affected under the Biden administration’s new rule will need to provide paid time off for workers trying to get vaccinated, as well as for workers affected negatively by the vaccine afterwards.
Biden said this paid time off requirement is “one of the last obstacles that make it difficult for you to get vaccinated.”
“No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated,” the president explained.
The new requirements are just the latest step from the Biden administration in combating COVID-19. The administration has urged private sector companies to implement vaccine mandates but stayed away from issuing a federal government-based mandate. (RELATED: ‘The Choice Is Yours’: In Line With CDC’s Mask Guidance, Biden Gives Americans An Ultimatum On Vaccines)
“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting on full FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that. Require it,” Biden said at the end of August after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine.