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Retailers Seek 90 Days to Comply With OSHA Vaccination Rule

Sept. 21, 2021, 9:40 PM

Two leading retail-sector trade groups asked Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to give companies 90 days of “lead time” to implement the forthcoming mandate for Covid-19 vaccination or testing for tens of millions of workers.

The emergency temporary standard being developed by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each worker is fully vaccinated or tested weekly, in addition to providing them with paid time off to get the shot and recover from any side effects.

The National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association said the “extensive measures” businesses will need to implement require that they be given an ample window before enforcement begins.

“As we have navigated federal and state requirements, recommendations, and protocols, we have learned that it takes time to implement successful testing and vaccination programs—particularly in the face of challenges related to availability, access, and verification,” the groups said in a letter Tuesday to Walsh and Jim Frederick, OSHA’s top official.

“Accordingly, we strongly encourage the agency to provide a 90-day implementation timeline to allow retailers and other employers to create the systems necessary to meet the ETS requirements,” the letter continued.

President Joe Biden outlined the administration’s plan Sept. 9, but officials have yet to formally release details of the emergency rule or provide a target date for its release, other than that it could take “weeks” to complete.

If companies were allowed 90 days to comply, that would likely mean the standard wouldn’t be enforceable until after the Christmas shopping season, a key period for retailers.

The trade groups asked the agency leaders to answer a series of technical questions, including how employers will be expected to track and verify that a worker has been vaccinated, and how to handle workers who refuse to be vaccinated or tested.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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