The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it is suspending its enforcement of the Biden administration’s new rules ordering larger employers to either require that their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.
OSHA, which posted the announcement on its website, added that it “remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies.”
The agency’s decision to stop implementing and enforcing the new rule comes after a federal appeals court earlier this month temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine rule, citing potential “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” The future of the government directive remains uncertain, with the case headed to the Sixth Circuit Court in Ohio, which the National Law Review says comprises a majority of Republican-appointed judges.
Meanwhile, businesses across the nation are facing uncertainty over the new vaccine rule, a 490-page order with complex requirements that experts say will require time and effort to ensure compliance. Under the original plan, by December 5, employers with more than 100 employees must choose whether their workers get fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing,
By January 4, those businesses must implement the rule — a timeline that doesn’t provide employers much leeway if the Sixth Circuit upholds the rule. Because of the tight deadline, employment attorneys have said they are encouraging businesses to move forward with compliance to avoid being caught unprepared if the regulation withstands legal challenge.
Companies that fail to comply with the COVID-19 order could face stiff fines — almost $14,000 for each employee who fails to comply with the rule and up to $136,000 for businesses that are found to be in “willful violation” of the requirements.
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