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OSHA mandates COVID-19 vaccine or testing for companies with more than 100 employees

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 23:40:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Businesses must now require vaccination by January 4th or weekly testing if they employ more than 100 people.

“It’s difficult for employers to have this sort of mandate come down, but not entirely surprising,” HR Supervisor at Alcott HR Jennifer Aiello said.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said, ‘we must take action to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace.’ Aiello said this new rule means businesses have to think long term.

“Any business with more than 100 employees has to start considering very seriously what their communication strategy is going to be,” Aiello said.

Anyone can opt into weekly testing without a medical or religious exemption, but employees will be responsible for the cost of each test.

“That seems to be based on the fact that it’s an employee choice,” associate at Harter Secrest and Emery Law Firm Anna McCarthy said.

McCarthy said OSHA does have the authority to issue and enforce this rule, but it may not be set in stone yet.

“They’re going to be seeking comment over the next 30 days,” McCarthy said. “So, it’s possible they update or make changes to the rule based on comment.”

The new mandate will also apply to local and national chains, from fast-food restaurants to retail that employ more than 100 people, even if less than a-hundred people work at each location.

“It’s your total headcount regardless of location,” Aiello said.

Companies will have the right to terminate employees who do not comply with vaccination or testing requirements and companies that fail to comply with new OSHA rules could face a $14,000 fine per violation.

“For now, its best practice to follow what’s been put in place,” Aiello said.

M&T Bank said they’re actively reviewing federal rules.

Delaware North said they’re looking to refine their approach and will communicate plans in the coming weeks.