Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses to be withdrawn by OSHA

After many months of legal battles over a mandate requiring businesses with 100 employees or more to require testing for employees who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will formally be withdrawn by the agency.

The withdrawal is effective January 26, 2022.

This news follows a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court blocking the Biden administration’s rule. The ruling blocking the rule for large businesses was based on the argument that Congress has not given OSHA the power to enact such a mandate.

Many businesses across the country have still been monitoring the situation closely to figure out if they will need to comply because while the court ruling blocked the mandate, OSHA had not withdrawn the emergency temporary standard (ETS) and the case was sent back down to the Sixth Circuit for further consideration on the merits of the challenge consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision. Meaning while blocked from going into effect, the ETS was not yet invalidated without OSHA’s withdrawal. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and other attorneys general called on OSHA to take this action last week.

On their website, OSHA stated while they are withdrawing this ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, “the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule.” The agency is now prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.

The Kentucky Chamber, the state’s largest business association, has maintained while it remains a strong advocate for vaccinations to control the spread of the virus, the OSHA mandate is a “clear attack on employers’ rights.” The organization applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the mandate.

Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said Tuesday: “Kentucky businesses can breathe a sigh of relief that this logistically impossible rule will not be going into effect. Of course, we continue to encourage vaccination and testing as the best way to control the spread of COVID.”

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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