Town Hall Provides Clarification on Vaccine Requirements & Deadlines

After a federal appeals court issued a stay last month on OSHA’s emergency temporary vaccine standards, many businesses, including credit unions, have been left wondering how to move forward.

bredehoft headshot 280x210Employment attorney, John Bredehoft who is with Kaufman & Canoles, offered insight during Monday’s Virtual Town Hall hosted by the MD|DC Credit Union Association.

Bredehoft strongly recommended that credit unions be prepared to comply, saying he expects the nation’s highest court to weigh in, “Despite the stay, it is prudent to assume that the emergency temporary standard will survive Supreme Court review.”

What to expect
On what was supposed to be the first major deadline for companies with 100 or more employees to establish a vaccine policy, Bredehoft advised that as of now everything is on hold, so credit unions don’t need to worry about effective dates – yet.

Bredehoft cautions that when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued emergency temporary standards in November, the agency also sought public comment on making the rule permanent and expressly asked about adjusting the scope to address smaller employers. The public comment period ends January 19.

What’s required
Bredehoft expects the emergency temporary standards will take effect once the legal challenges are resolved. He outlined what is required under the standards, and what credit unions need to be prepared for.

Employees must either be vaccinated or get tested weekly and wear a mask. Employees must provide proof of vaccination and employers must maintain records of each employee’s vaccine status.

Bredehoft explained that employers do not have to pay for face coverings, but they may have to pay for COVID tests based on state law. In Virginia, that means businesses pick up the tab. In Maryland and the District, the employee pays. Bredehoft went on to say that any FDA-approved test is acceptable, but it cannot be self-administered or self-read.

Under OSHA emergency temporary standards, employees get four hours of paid leave for vaccinations and up to two days to recover from the side effects of the vaccine. This can come from sick or paid time off (PTO), but not vacation and can't result in a negative PTO balance.

The District’s new emergency leave law approved last month, goes even further requiring private sector employers to provide up to two hours of paid leave for employees to obtain each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters. This leave is also available for employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine for their child. Employers must also provide up to eight hours of paid vaccine recovery leave, per dose, which can be used for the employee to recover or to care for their child recovering from the vaccine.

For the latest on vaccine emergency temporary standards, please visit OSHA's resource page.