The Biden White House announced Thursday that its vaccine mandate for private companies with 100 or more employees, healthcare workers, and federal contractors will go into effect on Jan. 4, and establish penalties for those who refuse to comply.
According to the guidelines made public by the White House, employees who are part of those groups must have been fully vaccinated before January 4 with any of the 3 vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States.
The White House said the establishment of a new deadline responds to the need to “make it easier for businesses and workers to comply” with the mandates.
In a statement released Thursday, President Joe Biden said vaccine mandates “are working” and are “the single best pathway out of this pandemic.”
The president said his mandates are “good for the economy” because Americans can go back to work if they get vaccinated.
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According to a White House report, at least 84 million employees working in large companies and 17 million healthcare workers employed in Medicare and Medicaid will be covered by the regulations, which will be implemented by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The same report says that “many organizations that have adopted vaccination requirements have increased vaccination rates by more than 20% points to well over 90%,” and said that the degree of compliance with the mandate “is very high.”
Furthermore, the White House insists that vaccine mandates will prevail over any local legislation, such as those that have been implemented in Texas and Florida to prevent American employees from being vaccinated against their will.
Vaccine mandate: penalties for non-compliance
Among the regulations mentioned in the publication, employers are required to ensure that their employees are vaccinated and that those who are not vaccinated must submit a negative PCR test on a weekly basis.
In addition, employers must pay for the time it takes their employees to get the vaccine and require those not vaccinated to wear a mask for the entire workday.
The mandate also requires employers to keep a record of all employees who have obeyed the rule and to report to authorities those who refuse to receive the vaccine.
According to another senior White House official, OSHA will enforce this rule just as the agency enforces any of the other rules in place, and violations could include fines of up to nearly $14,000 per violation, although that fine increases to a whopping $136,532 penalty if there is a “willful” violation.
In addition, the agency will be able to plan workplace inspections to ensure that employers and employees are enforcing the regulations, but any complaints or reports it receives from workers about non-compliance with the vaccine mandate will also be considered.
Penalties for medical facilities that fail to comply with the rule range from fines, suspension of payments and possible termination from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.