11 months ago gotthetest Team

I’m an employee at a business with 100+ workers: How does Biden’s new Covid-19 mandate affect me?

We've discussed ways to broach the conversation about Biden's new Covid mandate from the business owner's perspective, but it's equally important to consider the employee's perspective. This mandate will affect about 64% of the nation's 157 million-member workforce, so based on the odds, it is likely that you (yes, you reading this!) will be in that 64%. So, let's talk about what this Emergency Temporary Standard will mean for you.

What is the mandate?

There is no official mandate yet. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for developing and releasing the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). President Biden's announcement was simply an unveiling of the plan and a notice of what is to come. So far, we anticipate the new standard will require all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.

How many workers does this affect?

Time Magazine does a great job breaking down the numbers to see how many companies have more than 100 employees and thus will have to be compliant with the mandate. Interestingly enough, less than 2% of US firms have more than 100 employees, however, these firms account for more than 66% of US employment. Think Amazon, Walmart, Target, FedEx, etc. So, this leaves 98% of US companies as small businesses that employ under 100 people (less than 35% of US employees).

Differences for private-sector workers and federal workers/contractors

Biden's mandate weighs the heaviest on federal workers and contractors who will not have the "test out" option. All federal workers have to get the vaccine within 75 days or face termination. Private-sector companies will have more leeway in how they enforce the mandate. For example, they may encourage the weekly testing option. However, we've already seen large US employers, such as CVS, announce employee mandates before the official release and commencement of the ETS.

How does this affect workers outside the scope of the mandate?

If you work for a business with fewer than 100 employees, the mandate will not apply, however, your employer may decide to make requirements at their own discretion. It is legal for businesses to require in-person employees to get vaccinated or tested weekly.

Religious beliefs and medical conditions

The ETS has not been released so we do not conclusively know how the government is going to handle employees who have conflicting circumstances, such as religious beliefs or medical conditions. If you work for a business with under 100 employees, they can not legally require you to get vaccinated if you have these conflicting circumstances.

How to start a conversation about the mandate with your employer:

We are all in this pandemic together. Lots of conversations and experiences we are having are new both to you and your employer. It is crucial that you have open and honest conversations about your feelings toward the pandemic, vaccines, testing, work-from-home models, and more with your employer. It is likely your employer will be happy to accommodate your needs, but they can't without knowing what your needs are. Book a time to talk to your manager or HR leader about your needs and the company's plans regarding Covid.

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