Appeals Court reinstates Biden vaccine mandate for businesses, OSHA extends compliance deadlines slightly

UPDATED WITH COMPLIANCE DEADLINE INFORMATION: On Friday, the Federal Appeals Court for the 6th Circuit lifted a stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Emergency Temporary Standard establishing a vaccine mandate and testing protocols for employers with at least 100 employees. The controversial rule was halted in November.

In its ruling, the court stated, “OSHA has demonstrated the pervasive danger that COVID-19 poses to workers—unvaccinated workers in particular—in their workplaces.” 

Early Saturday morning, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a stay of the rule.

Shortly after the first petition to the Supreme Court was filed, OSHA announced that it will extend employers’ timeline to comply with the ETS.  Per OSHA, employers will now have until January 10 to develop compliant policies and until February 9 to begin testing programs.

Kentucky is a “state plan” state and will implement this rule in accordance with federal and state regulations. We are awaiting further guidance from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet on how the Sixth Circuit decision will impact Kentucky employers and the compliance deadline of the ETS.

When the rule was first issued the Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts issued the following statement in defense of employer rights:

“The Chamber continues to be a strong advocate for vaccination to control the spread of the virus, but the recent filing of the OSHA emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to mandate vaccines or testing is an attack on employers’ rights. We have maintained throughout the pandemic that policies should protect the rights of employers to make vaccination and testing decisions based on what is best for their facilities and workers with consideration of their customers. The Chamber will help businesses navigate this recent rulemaking and the challenges it presents.”

The federal contractor mandate remains stayed. Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates on the mandates.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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