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: Biden’s vaccine mandate for firms with 100+ employees to take effect Jan 4

President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees will take effect in two months, on January 4, when these employees will either have to be fully vaccinated or submit weekly COVID-19 tests to their employer and wear a face mask at work. 

The mandate, which Biden announced over the summer, will apply to some 84 million employees, according to a fact sheet the Biden administration published. It will be enforced through an emergency rule developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA will enforce the mandate through complaints filed with the agency and through “programmed or planned inspections” of workplaces, senior administration officials said. The maximum penalty for a serious violation is $13,653 and the maximum penalty for a willful violation is $136,532.

But OSHA is “not asking employers to submit proof” of compliance to the agency, a senior official told MarketWatch. “Employers are being required to gather this information and have [it] available.”

January 4 is the same date Biden’s vaccine mandate for some 17 million health care workers who treat Medicaid or Medicare patients goes into effect. These workers however will not have the option to get tested for COVID-19 in place of getting vaccinated.

The attorneys general of 24 states previously said they will challenge Biden’s mandate claiming that it is a violation of state Constitutional rights.

But senior officials said Wednesday that “the new emergency temporary standard is well within OSHA’s authority under the law and consistent with OSHA’s requirements to protect workers from health and safety hazards, including infectious diseases.”

Nearly 70% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s database.

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