The Biden administration has finally drafted a text of the vaccine and test mandate for private sector companies with more than 100 employees, according to a new report.
ABC News reported Wednesday morning that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has advanced the rule under a temporary emergency provision. It would be the first time federal regulators have listed a respiratory virus as an occupational hazard outside of the health care industry.
Details are not yet available, but the rule would reportedly impact approximately 80 million American workers, nearly two-thirds of the American workforce.
Under emergency provisions, the mandate would go into effect immediately following its publication. Unvaccinated employees would be required to undergo regular testing. But ABC News reported that there were expectations of a grace period to allow businesses time to get all their workers in compliance, though no clear time frames were stated. Several private industry groups lobbied for a 60-day timeframe, which would postpone enforcement until at least January of 2022. The groups argued that a “mass exodus” of non-compliant workers would exacerbate already-existing labor shortages and put even more stress on workforces ahead of the busy holiday season.
White House and Department of Labor spokespeople refused to comment to ABC News on the details of the mandate, only confirming that the Office of Management and Budget completed its regulatory review Monday.
“The Federal Register will publish the emergency temporary standard in the coming days,” a Labor Department spokesperson told ABC News.
Private sector organizations had not seen a draft of the mandate, but among the questions related to ABC News were those about the time frame to bring workers into compliance, how long the mandate would be in effect, and how freelancers and gig workers would be affected, as well as franchise businesses, like chain restaurants and gyms.
In September, President Biden announced that the Department of Labor was developing “an emergency rule” mandating that all employers with more than 100 employees require workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subject to weekly testing before going to work. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us,” President Biden said of unvaccinated Americans in an address to the nation announcing the plan. Since then, there has been no actual regulation in force, but several states have already lined up lawsuits against the mandates for federal government employees, as well as private sector mandates. Other states, such as Texas and Florida, have issued executive action or legislation banning private businesses from instituting vaccine mandates on their employees or “passports” for their customers.