how will the vaccine mandate work exactly?

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced a series of measures to combat COVID-19 more aggressively, including a mandate that many employers require their workers to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Here’s what we know so far about how the mandate will work.

What exactly does the vaccination mandate require of businesses?

Private-sector businesses with 100 or more employees will need to require employees to be vaccinated or undergo mandatory weekly testing, which covers about 80 million people. The same requirement will apply to nearly all federal workers and contractors, covering several million more workers, as well as 17 million health-care workers in hospitals and other institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. All told, that’s about two-thirds of the entire U.S. workforce. The new law also says those businesses must offer employees paid time off to get vaccinated.

What if I work for a smaller company?

If you work for an employer with fewer than 100 employees, it won’t be subject to the mandate, although your employer might choose to implement a similar rule anyway. One thing the new rule does is give some cover to employers who’d already wanted to require vaccination but were worried about pushback from employees.

My company doesn’t plan to follow the mandate. What can I do?

First, keep in mind that the mandate isn’t in effect yet — so just because your company isn’t following it now doesn’t mean it won’t once it becomes law. That’s expected to happen in the next several weeks. After that, companies are likely to have a period of 50–90 days to comply.

But if your company ignores the law once it’s in place, you have a few options. One is to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency that enforces workplace-safety laws and is charged with enforcing this one, or to your state’s workplace safety agency. Or, if you work in a health-care facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement (which includes everything from hospitals to dialysis centers to home health agencies), you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services.

Another option is to team up with a group of your co-workers and advocate for your company to follow the law. A group can be harder to ignore than a single person, and there can be safety in numbers if you’re worried about retaliation.

Speaking of retaliation, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for filing a safety or health complaint with OSHA or for raising a health and safety concern at work. The National Labor Relations Act also protects your right to discuss working conditions with your co-workers and organize with them to advocate for change within your company (although note that law’s protection only applies to nonmanagement employees).

We’re not covered by the mandate. Can we enforce it anyway?

Yes! Employers can legally require vaccines as long as the requirement is job-related and “consistent with business necessity.” “Business necessity” can mean that an unvaccinated employee would pose a threat to other employees, customers, or the public. That might not affect a remote employee, but it’s easy to argue it pertains to everyone else. (In fact, many employers, especially those in health care and education, have already been requiring immunizations of other kinds for years.)

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, employers do need to make exceptions for people with medical conditions or “sincerely held religious beliefs” that mean they can’t be vaccinated, but in those cases, you can still require regular testing and other precautions. (More on what those can be in a minute.)

What if an employee’s medical or religious exemption claim seems … suspicious?

In the case of medical exemptions, federal law allows employers to request medical information from the person requesting the exemption, and then requires them to engage in “an interactive process” to determine reasonable accommodations. Importantly, the employer doesn’t need to accept the specific accommodation the employee is requesting; they can come up with alternate accommodations that meet the goal — including things like masking at work, keeping the employee isolated from others, changing their shift to minimize contact with others, or even having them take an unpaid leave of absence (as at least one airline is doing).

>With requests for religious exceptions, an employer can legally question or contest a stated religious belief if that employer has an objective basis for believing the employee is being dishonest or that the objection isn’t actually based on religion. However, religious claims can be tough to disprove (in part because the law doesn’t limit its definition of a religious belief to those associated with an actual religion), and there can be legal risk to pushing back on them. But as with medical exemptions, the employer only has to offer a reasonable accommodation, not necessarily the one the employee prefers.

What if one employee’s accommodation request conflicts with another employee’s needs?

You might run into the problem of dueling accommodation requests — for example, if one employee can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons and another has a medical condition that makes it especially unsafe for them to work in an office with unvaccinated people. In those cases, the employer is required to enter into an interactive process with both employees to see if they can come up with accommodations that will solve the problem. For example, you might decide that one of them will work from home, or on a separate shift, or from a separate area of the office that the other won’t be permitted to enter. In some cases, there might be no way to accommodate both employees without what the law calls “undue hardship” to the employer, but legally they have to try working with both employees to see if they can find solutions first.

Can we refuse to hire candidates who aren’t vaccinated?

The rules for hiring are similar for requiring vaccination among your existing employees. You can indeed require vaccination when you’re hiring, as long as you allow medical and religious exemptions.

Can I ask a co-worker if they’ve been vaccinated, or is that rude?

It’s not rude to ask for information you need to protect yourself. “I’m being really careful — can I ask if you’re vaccinated so I can take precautions if you’re not?” or “Before we meet in person, can I ask if you’re vaccinated?” are perfectly reasonable questions to ask in a global pandemic. (That said, whenever you’re around people you don’t know well, it can be safer to assume one or more of them might not be vaxxed and take precautions accordingly.)

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 266 comments… read them below }

  1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I’m just curious how if this will be enforced by companies that have remote employees. For example – my company is entirely remote. We closed our physical office during Covid and I don’t know if they will open it back up, but we have employees in many states and have worked remotely for years. Does the measure require proof of vaccine from remote employees as well? (I’d have no problem providing that; I’m just curious how it will work)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      According to the SHRM remote workers are still required to be vaccinated under the current federal workers executive order and the expectation is the same criteria will extend to the 100 employee order.

    2. not a doctor*

      My company is requiring that any employee who leaves their home as part of their work in any capacity must be vaccinated or exempted (and go through whatever other measures they have to). That includes remote employees if they EVER travel to the office or meet with other employees.

      I like my company.

      1. LZ*

        I am about to start a new job in a fully remote role. My new job has a policy that all employees, remote or otherwise must show proof of vaccination, and the proof has to be approved by internal OHS. The company is big enough that rather than parsing who will or won’t ever need to encounter other employees, it’s easier to require them for everyone. I approve of this.

    3. Alex*

      My company has tons of remote employees or employees who are deployed in the field in far-flung areas, and they simply have a secure vaccine card database (because of our clients, we already have a full vaccination policy for other diseases, covid was added in July). You upload photos of your card, they check you off the list as eligible to work, life goes on.

  2. Come On Eileen*

    This is really interesting and helpful! I see that you briefly touched on remote workers in the “we’re not covered by the mandate” section, but I’m curious about remote workers who work for companies that ARE covered by the mandate. It seems like a remote worker, no matter what size company they work for, doesn’t pose a grave risk to co-workers, customer, etc. since they aren’t in physical contact with them. Does that mean they’ll likely not be subject to this new mandate? Or just too soon to know?

    1. desdemona*

      I know the City University of New York system is requiring ALL students to be vaccinated, even fully virtual ones, if they want to ever enter campus. That means someone who is fully virtual but say, wants to grab a library book, must be vaccinated.
      Many employers have remote work rules involving the remote worker coming to an office or a big meeting a few times a year – maybe they will follow CUNY’s suit?

      1. not a doctor*

        Said this above, but that’s exactly what my company is doing. If you EVER have contact with another person as part of your job, you must be vaccinated.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Our vaccine mandate (which predated this) specified that remote work does not qualify for an exemption, as our remote work policy specifies that any remote worker may be called onsite for work-related reasons (such as meetings or training requirements) at any time. That actually HAPPENS about once every 2-3 years, even pre-covid, but since the option is written into policy, the mandate applied.

        1. Cassie*

          I think our university system’s initial stance was everyone must get the vaccine (except those w/ approved med or religious exemptions), regardless of whether you come to campus or not – but it sounds like the policy has changed slightly so that people who are fully remote (students and staff alike) must report that they are “fully remote” and just have to be vaccinated before they step foot on campus. So there is a possibility that some in the campus community will not have to get vaccinated ever (say, if they happen to not need to come to campus within the next few years)

      3. NorthOfTheWall*

        That’s what my university is doing. As of Nov. 1st, anybody who comes on campus must be fully vaccinated and show the card. If you’re fully virtual and don’t plan to ever come on campus? Don’t have to get vaxxed. But if all of your classes are virtual and you come to get textbooks/visit library/drop a course? Gotta have the vaccines! We also have smaller centers on First Nations/Reserves, so if their requirements are more stringent than ours, than their requirements trump what we have.

      4. Annie*

        Yep! I’m teaching there remotely this semester (from FAR out of state, as in me actually coming to campus is literally not happening) and based on the language in the mandate I’m still considering uploading my vaccination info just so that I don’t somehow get flagged in the system and have any issues.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I am a fully virtual worker for the VA (except having to go get an new computer and ID badge every couple of years). There hasn’t been any waiver for remote/virtual workers in the VA. The VA (I guess being in large part a medical provider) was ahead of the federal employee mandates.

  3. MainelyProfessional*

    FWIW my partner’s company issued a medical exemptions only vaccine requirement before the federal mandate, he and many of his coworkers are remote. It’s not about being in an office :)

    1. Come On Eileen*

      My understanding is that because this particular emergency mandate WILL look at whether employees come in contact with other employees or customers. There’s no workplace risk if there’s no contact. The Labor Department held a webinar to answer some questions in advance of the ETS and made it sound like remote workers would likely be exempt. I found some good info on this website but I’m not an expert so would love if others would weigh in:

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It’s not about being in an office :)

      I agree. We all have to eat. Most of us have to refuel vehicles. It’s almost impossible to completely avoid contact with everyone’s coworkers indefinitely.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It’s in the company’s interest also for their employees to not be out sick for weeks and then be at reduced capacity for even longer due to lingering fatigue and other symptoms. I know that’s a slippery slope and I don’t think it would be appropriate for a company to mandate that everyone eats five fruits and vegetables every day, or even in almost all cases to mandate that their employees can’t smoke even off the clock, but businesses should have a compelling reason to want their employees vaccinated even for amoral strictly-capitalist reasons.

  4. Paris Geller*

    This was really helpful! I’ve had some questions about my work place and I think this answers them, but I would love to get clarification from those who all well versed in this mandate:

    1. I work in the public sector for a municipal government. We have over 100 employees, but since I am not a *federal* employee or employed in a private business, the mandate does not apply to my organization based on my understanding. Is that correct? (I am very pro-vaccine and wish it did, but I’m trying to make sure my understanding is accurate).

    2. Currently, we are not allowed to ask our coworkers if they are vaccinated. I’m not sure if this is just an organization rule or based on state laws (I’m in Texas) — will this change anything? I’m not seeing how it would.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Hmmm…the vaccination is an OSHA regulation so I would think you’re covered. I’m reading different articles that say “employers” vs “private employers”.

      The coworker thing is probably organizational I don’t think that will change.

    2. Public Sector Manager*

      Public sector in California here. Yes, the new federal law only covers federal employees, federal contractors, and private sector employers. We’ve been given the same advice on not asking coworkers if they are vaccinated. The reason being is that if they do have a medical exception or a sincerely held religious belief for not getting vaccinated, and if someone starts discriminating against them because of vaccine status, it opens the door for a discrimination claim based on the underlying medical condition or religious belief.

      Best policy is to assume everyone you run into isn’t vaccinated and take steps to keep yourself safe.

    3. Jane*

      My company also says we’re not supposed to ask our coworkers. I’ve interpreted this to be a company rule – I do not see any way that it could be anything else, as it would violate all sorts of laws for it to be legally mandated.

      That said, it’s really easy to ask without asking. All it takes is volunteering one’s own vaccine status when discussing Covid safety and how to work together. People reciprocate if they’re vaccinated. If they’re not they either ignore what you just said and move the conversation in a different direction, or tell you they’re not.

      (I also ignored the rule and point blank asked on one occasion, but that was because I was distracted and needed the info, not because the above doesn’t work.)

      1. Mouse*

        I am vaccinated but I’m not sure I would necessarily offer up that information! I don’t think it’s safe to assume that someone who doesn’t tell you they’re vaccinated is for sure not vaccinated.

        1. Littorally*

          Treating a vaccinated person like they’re not vaccinated is much safer than treating an unvaccinated person like they’re vaccinated :) It seems a pretty reasonable assumption to me.

        2. Chc34*

          I 100% would assume someone who doesn’t tell me they’re vaccinated is unvaccinated in order to protect myself.

          1. Kaitydid*

            Same here. And I wear masks and keep distance from strangers on the assumption that they don’t trust me to be vaccinated. I am fully vaccinated, but I get it. I’m doing the same lol

        3. Aquawoman*

          Well, it may not be accurate to assume it, but it is safe(r) to assume it, or put another way, keeping physical distance from people unless you know they’re vaccinated seems like a sensible rule to follow to minimize exposure.

        4. Mouse*

          Ah, totally see everyone’s point about it being safer to assume that way. Yes, fully agree with that, and my use of the word “safe” was not great. I was mostly referring to the “all unvaccinated people are ignorant and horrible” assumptions that I’ve been encountering–please don’t assume THAT!

        5. alienor*

          Really? I would absolutely offer it up for a whole raft of reasons: to reassure the person asking, to help normalize being vaccinated, to determine whether they’re jerks or loons (e.g. they sneer at/abuse me for being vaccinated or start avoiding me I case I “make them sterile”), and because I don’t want any of the normal, sensible people around me to to think I’m a jerk or loon.

          1. Nunya*

            I would absolutely not offer it up because my medical history is not my coworkers’ business and normalizing that it is it highly problematic.

            1. Texan in exile*

              Your medical history is private. The possibility of making your coworkers sick and maybe killing them is not.

              1. Mannequin*


                This is also why religious exemptions need to be eliminated. Your right to practice religion ends at the point where practicing your religion harms others.

    4. old curmudgeon*

      I am also interested in the answer to your first question. I work for a state government, and both in my agency and in the state as a whole, there are considerably more than 100 employees, which I would suspect is true for many non-federal government workers. Our state has over 30,000 employees, and it is troubling to think that the mandate would just leave out the entire sector from the vaccine mandate.

      The Powers That Be required all state employees to report their vaccine status (fully vaccinated, in process, not vaccinated) earlier this summer, and based on what I’ve heard, close to 70% of state employees are partially or fully vaccinated. While that’s great, I worry about how many of the un-vaxxed 30% work in my area and are people I encounter on a daily basis. I wear a mask at all times in the office and do my best to distance, but I’d feel a lot less concerned if the feds came up with a way that my state and others could require vaccines for all state workers.

    5. BRR*

      Ugh I hate the possibility I’m spreading bad information but from what I just searched since the mandate is from OSHA, it does not apply to state or municipal employees in states that do not have a state OSHA plan, which Texas does not.

    6. Johnny Karate*

      I read an article (which I tried to find again but couldn’t, sorry), that explained this. If your state has a state level workplace health and safety organization (26 of them do), the mandate will apply to state and municipal workers. If OSHA directly supervises your state, the mandate doesn’t apply to state and municipal workers. It’s counterintuitive, but apparently it’s because of the way OSHA defines employers vs. how state level agencies do it.

      1. This Old House*

        Interesting. My public employer in an OSHA State Plan state has given no indication that they anticipate being covered by the mandate.

    7. HigherEdAdminista*

      At a public uni and we were told our governor must mandate the vaccine for staff and faculty. I wish they would hurry up and do it already!

    8. kittymommy*

      1. I work in the public sector for a municipal government. We have over 100 employees, but since I am not a *federal* employee or employed in a private business, the mandate does not apply to my organization based on my understanding. Is that correct? (I am very pro-vaccine and wish it did, but I’m trying to make sure my understanding is accurate).

      Same except in Florida. Probably similar to you, our governor has an executive order against mandating the vaccine. And to be honest, there’s no way in hell my municipality will mandate the vaccine.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I’ve been confused about this for a while. Generally, if state and federal law conflict, doesn’t the stricter usually win? So before there was a federal mandate, Florida could ban mandates, but once there’s a federal mandate, doesn’t that still stand? So it’d cover everyone it covers, but Fla just couldn’t have any additional mandates covering beyond what’s already covered? Or is that not how that works?

        1. fposte*

          What you’re saying is true when it comes to civilian state residents. When OSHA was created in 1970, the act that created it explicitly absented state and municipal governmental employees from OSHA’s authority.

          1. Paris Geller*

            Interesting (and kind of weird imo). This info does help make sense of some things though.

            I’m basically doing what people in this thread have advised, so while I would love to be covered under a vaccine mandate I feel OKish knowing that I’m vaccinated and I keep masking and social distancing. Just another weird thing about working in the public sector.

  5. TiffIf*

    I saw a framing of this online that I liked–
    This is a testing mandate with an exemption for those who can prove they are vaccinated.

    1. KHB*

      I like this a lot too – thanks for sharing it.

      Thinking about it this way makes me wonder: Would a company be in compliance with the mandate if they required regular testing of all employees, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated? Our CEO is (unreasonably, in my opinion) reluctant to even ask us whether we’re vaccinated, for fear of “othering” those who don’t want to get vaccinated. We have more than 100 employees, so we’re going to have to address the mandate sooner or later, so I wonder whether he might try to find a loophole like that.

      1. goducks*

        Yes, and there are a lot of examples of this out there. Certain employers are requiring routine covid tests regardless of vax status. In fact, that’s how a significant number of asymptomatic breakthrough cases have been discovered.

        1. KHB*

          OK, but my question isn’t whether an employer can require employees to get tested (I know they can) – it’s whether requiring testing alone (and continuing to refuse to track employees’ vaccination status) would be viewed as satisfying the mandate. The mandate isn’t in effect yet, so by definition, there can’t be “a lot of examples” of employers satisfying it in this way.

          1. goducks*

            I read your question as asking whether they can require everyone tested no matter their status, not if they can put in a testing policy instead.

            Some of that is going to come down to the exact language that OSHA puts in the regulation.

    2. Maglev to Crazytown*

      This is how my company explained it to me. I have multiple ADA-covered conditions that could be made worse by vaccinating (my doctors have advised me not to at this time, so I enquired about the mandate. The company HR COVID reps told me that they are not considering a “vaccine mandate,” but that if I am not (or cannot) vaccinate, I will have to following the testing plan. I have slept a little easier since then.

    3. RagingADHD*

      This is actually the way a local college implemented their vaccine requirement to circumvent our state law banning “vaccine passports.”

      They require all students to do regular testing. Students who prove they are vaccinated can get a waiver on the testing policy.

      1. .*

        This is how the Canadian province of Alberta brought in a vaccine passport – the are calling it the “proof of vaccination restrictions exemptions program” meaning that proof of vaccination aka a vaccine passport will allow you to not have restrictions in certain settings. Just political jargon because the premier had doubled down against vaccine passports but was forced to implement one as the health care system crumbled.

  6. In the Midwest*

    I was talking to the owner of my company yesterday about this, and the question about who pays for the tests was raised. Could the company pass that along to the employee? Will the test costs be subsidized? Are those answers pending still?

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I worked at a company that required regular and routine drug testing.

        2/roughly 40 of us in our office, once a month, selected at random.

        That ratio of employees and frequency could be construed as a reasonable cost (not touching the reasonable-ness of drug testing at large here).

        Not a virologist nor in medicine, but I suspect that number and frequency would prove useless in the context of Covid testing. Wouldn’t it need to be close to “everyone” and “daily”? (Honest question, I do not know)

        1. ThatGirl*

          In a more ideal situation, everyone would have free and easy access to rapid testing. A lot of other countries have managed this, but we’ve failed for some reason. Then people could test every morning, or 3x a week, or before walking into the office, or whatever.

          That said, I think testing unvaccinated people 2-3x a week would be a big improvement over what we have now.

          1. Sled Dog Mama*

            I was just reading an article this morning about why we don’t have cheap and easy access to rapid testing the way many in Europe do. Apparently (as I understand it from the article) it’s because of how the FDA classifies the Rapid test (as a medical device) so it is required to be just as accurate as the PCR test which it’s not, it still catches 98% of cases so would go a long way in getting people who are contagious to stay home. (apparently the rapid tests can be viewed as a level of virus in your system test, if you test positive you would be contagious, you might test negative on a rapid test but positive on a PCR at the same time if you didn’t have enough virus in your system to be contagious).
            Interestingly if the FDA were to reclassify the rapid tests as a public health tool that would open the door for a lot of those available in Europe to be available here. Again this is just what I understood from the article

            1. TiffIf*

              Wait, I’m confused. by rapid test do you mean the Rapid Antigen Test? The US doesn’t use them?

              I went to Costa Rica a few months ago and to return to the US you have to have a negative Covid test (a lot of countries require this) but the US was one of the few that accepted both Rapid Antigen Tests and PCR tests–the rapid antigen test being faster and cheaper (test results in 1 hours as opposed to 24 hours), I opted for that. My sister and her family were returning to a country that only accepted PCR tests taken within 72 hours and so had to time everything carefully while still paying more than I did. (And then they got stuck in Germany for a day and a half and had to retest because the 72 hours had passed by the time they finally would re-enter their home country…the airline reimbursed them for the testing fees as it was airlines delays and missed connections that caused the problem.)

              If this is the same test, why can it be used for entering the US borders but not within those borders? that makes no sense.

              1. ThatGirl*

                We do indeed have rapid antigen tests, you can buy them at the grocery store even. They’re not free for home use or as widely available as they should be, though.

              2. KHB*

                A lot of companies (dozens, maybe?) make their own versions of rapid antigen tests. Only a couple of them are approved for over-the-counter use in the US, and they’re not cheap. As a result, it’s not really possible to get going with the kind of widespread, large-scale testing program that could contain the pandemic. It would be nice to be able to take a quick test right before you meet with anybody (and if the test is positive, stay home), but the approved tests aren’t available in sufficient numbers to be able to do that.

          2. Thursdaysgeek*

            That is something that would have been very useful from the beginning! A test where you have to wait 2-3 days for the results is only useful if you are very careful to not get exposed during the time you are waiting. Otherwise, a negative means you didn’t have it a few days ago, but you might now.

          3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Rapid tests daily would possibly be much more trouble than they’re worth, because they have a fairly high false positive rate when used by people who don’t have any covid symptoms (who are less likely to have covid than symptomatic people – especially true for vaccinated people who don’t have any symptoms). It’s not huge for any individual test – I’ve heard about 2% chance of false positive – but if you do them repeatedly then the math works out to about a 50-50 chance of getting a false positive by around the 34th test. In an office of more than just a couple people you’d be essentially guaranteed to get at least one false positive in the first week of daily testing.

            1. KHB*

              The way I see it, even if false positives mean that we need to unnecessarily treat 2% of people like they might have COVID, that’s still a big improvement over what we’re doing now, which is unnecessarily treating 100% of people like they might have COVID.

              1. KHB*

                And also, while I can’t speak to the specific biochemical workings of every rapid antigen test (which are all slightly different), my understanding is that they don’t just turn up positive in response to nothing: If you’re getting a false positive, it’s likely because you’ve got something in your system that’s similar enough to COVID that the test thinks it’s COVID. If that something is you being sick with another virus, it’s still probably in everybody’s best interests for you to stay home for a few days.

    1. dustycrown*

      It’s just my opinion, but I can imagine employers agreeing to pay for weekly testing just because an employee opts out of the vaccine. If you have a ~legitimate~ religious or medical reason not to be vaccinated, maybe, but there’s no reason for an employer to subsidize your unvaccinated status based on your personal or political beliefs.

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        The last thing we need is a fight over who pays for testing.

        Even though it’s “not fair” that the employer should have to pay when it’s the employee’s decision not to be vaccinated, that is the most practical way to ensure that those required to get tested actually get tested.

      2. RCB*

        That’s actually part of the point of this, it becomes costly for a company to have unvaccinated workers (regular testing costs, plus the costs of documenting all of it every time a test is done), so the company will eventually do everything it can to eliminate this cost, which is by getting you vaccinated (best outcome for all), or showing you the door.

        1. Me*

          Ding ding ding.

          The intent is to put the burden on the unvaxxed. Thus far the burden has been on those vaxing and masking and doing the right thing. Choices have consequences and those consequences are being shifted to those who should have them.

          1. Amazed*

            Thus the question becomes how to shift them onto the people for whom being unvaccinated is actually voluntary, and not onto the people for whom being unvaccinatable is out of their (and possibly everyone’s) hands.

            I’m all for fervor in getting the first group to get vaxxed, but I draw the line where it hurts and victim-blames the second.

    2. MsClaw*

      My company was in front of the mandates and announced they’d be requiring vax or negative weekly tests back in August. Absolutely no indication that they would pay for testing. It’s possible that they were making accommodation for employees with legitimate medical excuses. But in general, their goal was to make it so expensive/annoying to not be vaxed that people would just go get the jab.

      1. KHB*

        I’m not really loving this idea that the expense and annoyance of testing is a feature in the process, rather than a bug. With breakthrough infections being what they are, we could do a lot more to clamp down on the spread by making testing cheaply and easily available for all people, vaccinated or not.

        I was talking about this yesterday with my team. They’re all vaccinated (or at least they say they are, and I believe them), but the people who are parents of young children still aren’t comfortable meeting with people in the office for as their kids are still unvaccinated. I don’t want them to feel unsafe, and I also don’t want to inadvertently be responsible for giving them (and their kids) COVID. Regular testing for all of us would help on all those fronts.

        1. MsClaw*

          I agree it would be good if there was a quick/cheap/easy way to do testing even of vaccinated employees.

          But I’m not terribly sympathetic to people who just don’t feel like getting their shots. If financial pain is what it takes to get them to do the right thing, I’m okay with that.

          1. KHB*

            I agree – I just think the financial pain should come from another source. If the unvaccinated-by-choice have to pay more for their employer-provided health insurance, for example, I’d be AOK with that.

        2. Distracted Librarian*

          Totally agree. I’m fully vaxxed and still test weekly. We have grab and go test kits freely available at my university as of last week, so testing is easy. I’d like to see more of that.

          1. KHB*

            Me too. I was lucky enough to buy a few boxes of rapid at-home tests right before the massive run on them started. I was planning on testing myself once a week, just for my own peace of mind, but until the supply issues get sorted out, I’m going to need to use them more judiciously than that.

        3. Noblepower*

          I agree with you – my workplace encouraged everyone to get vaxxed, and is currently doing weekly PCR testing of every employee and volunteer (we’re a nonprofit org), and while I do agree that financial and inconvenience factors are a way to prod folks that are on the fence to get their jab, we’ve had breakthrough cases that were caught by the weekly testing, so I think frequent testing is still a valuable tool that should be made easier than it is right now, not more costly or difficult.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I have heard of companies / organizations doing that already. Vaccine or weekly test, we don’t pay for your testing.

      It’s an extra incentive to get vaccinated. There’s already an incentive because a vaccine is a 1 or 2 time thing versus weekly testing.

      Fully support making it inconvenient to be unvaccinated because a person thinks they know better than the medical establishment … and if you’re medically exempt well you’re inconvenienced but you’re also keeping a watch on your health.

    4. Never Boring*

      I work at a law firm with a significant employment law practice (IANAL), and so far the general consensus is that the details vary somewhat from state to state re: whether employers would need to pay for the tests and/or allow PTO for employees to get tested.

    5. Purple Cat*

      There might be state laws impacting this.
      Apparently in mine, COVID tests is considered a “Medical Exam” and that has to be covered by employers.
      It’s more than a little annoying that people can get a free vaccine, or force their employers to pay hundreds of dollars to continually test them. I wish the testing had to be personally covered (with standard medical/religious exemptions).

      1. mreasy*

        All covid testing in NYC is free for any reaso , I don’t understand why it can’t be that way elsewhere.

          1. Dr B Crusher*

            People on this site do understand how taxes and publicly funded initiatives work, I’d say. What is the point of this sort of comment?

            1. pancakes*

              It’s a convenient way for people who favor the status quo to tread water rather than explain or account for their objections to improving healthcare with any degree of nuance. If they were to acknowledge that people use “free” as short for “free at the point of service,” they might find themselves wading into explaining why they believe it shouldn’t be.

  7. PJS*

    I work for a local government and I am so disappointed that this won’t apply to us. We are already prevented from having mask requirements or requiring vaccines on our own due to our state’s governor. I was really hoping the federal government would override that.

    1. Kaitydid*

      I feel for you. I’m in Washington, and we have a state level vaccine mandate. Apparently the federal one wouldn’t apply to my agency, based on what I read here, but the governor’s order does. I’m grateful for my state level governance, for sure.

    2. LocalGov*

      Where did you see that it won’t apply to local government? Federal OSHA or State OSHA plans would still apply, and local gov has to comply with that. If you have a source please share because I work with a lot of local govs that are wondering about this. Thanks!

      1. fposte*

        Johnny Karate above explains it well: “If your state has a state level workplace health and safety organization (26 of them do), the mandate will apply to state and municipal workers. If OSHA directly supervises your state, the mandate doesn’t apply to state and municipal workers. It’s counterintuitive, but apparently it’s because of the way OSHA defines employers vs. how state level agencies do it.”

  8. ThatGirl*

    I work for a pretty large company that’s been good about requiring masks and letting people WFH and they’ve been collecting vaccine status in our HRIS system for a few months now. But on our last town hall Zoom, one of the presidents specifically said the mandate wasn’t in effect yet (“Biden asked OSHA to make the rule; OSHA hasn’t actually done that yet” is basically how he explained it) so nothing was changing, although he personally did encourage people to get vaccinated.

    I was mildly frustrated by that because what possible harm could there be in starting to implement that now – there’s no reason to believe it will suddenly NOT become law, is there? But for as much as this company wants to be socially progressive and inclusive, I do see a conservative streak in the leadership…

    1. Thursdaysgeek*

      That is similar to my company in many ways. At our meeting it was said that the company was waiting to see how the many state lawsuits against the mandate turn out.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Well and we’re in Illinois, where there are already statewide vaccine (-or-regular-testing) mandates for a variety of people. It just seems kind of weenie to not make a stand now or at LEAST send out companywide encouragement.

        1. Thursdaysgeek*

          We do get a lot of company encouragement, but they are waiting on making it a mandate.

          We are in quite a few states, and while they try to also follow state law, federal law supersedes it. (So, for instance, pot is legal in my state, but not federally, so we can be fired for using it.)

    2. DennisorDenise*

      My company is also waiting- they are afraid of losing as much as 40% of the workforce when OSHA issues guidelines and forces vaccination. Where I work, that will render the company unable to function.

      1. goducks*

        I think this is the beauty of the OSHA requirement. When it was entirely up to the employer, it was easier for employees to jump ship to another employer without a mandate. If it’s all employers with 100 employees, where are all these employees going to go? There may be some small companies who will hire some of them, but they can’t hire too many and grow too much, or they’ll be over the 100 employee limit.

        Unless 40% of your company can forgo employment income, the threats to quit are likely mostly bluster.

        1. DennisorDenise*

          Think state military, which already has a near dire hiring problem… I agree, seems like most folks won’t “quit” (be forced out for noncompliance) because they need the paycheck, but that is the fear.

      2. PollyQ*

        Obviously, I can’t predict what your company’s experience will be, but I’ve seen multiple stories of companies that have put their own mandate in losing many fewer employees than that, regardless of what people said. Like, ~1%, or even less.

      3. Mannequin*

        40% OG people in your company would rather be unemployed than get a vaccine that saves lives?

        Sounds like your company will be better off without them.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think it shows political conservativeness, but legal conservativeness.

      Antivaxx employees are showing themselves to be increasingly litigious. Some companies are extremely risk averse.

      The DOL has already legalized employer vaccine mandates, but the OSHA rule is like a “second shot” to protect employers from legal exposure, especially in states with heavy anti-mandate sympathies.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      They may want to make sure they comply withh the law as it ends up being written to avoid having to roll out multiple policies. It could be annoying to employees and difficult for the company to keep track of who’s fully compliant if the policy has to be changed after the law goes into effect. Speaking as an employee, I find it a little hard to keep track of what my company’s current in-person policies are because they change every few months.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Similar message here – but for us part of the challenge is in figuring out exactly *where* employees can easily go to get tested and figuring out the budget to cover testing. The company has done (IMO) a really good job handling COVID so far, and nobody is eager to start spending thousands of dollars on testing.

  9. Stitch*

    One thing I’m slightly worried about is that my name is slightly misspelled on my vaccine card. (Like say my name was Kelly and it says Kelley). I’m a little worried this might cause problems.

    1. Caboose*

      I think you can request re-issues, but I suspect it’ll be fine! My name is spelled wrong on my social security card, and nobody has noticed yet– and if they had, it’s pretty clearly a typo.

      1. Sled Dog Mama*

        Yeah my name is misspelled on my (now expired) passport, frustrated me so much because of all the documentation I had to provide including my SS card (which is from the same government, different office) and they still put a space in my name where one doesn’t go so I can’t use any of the fancy electronic passport readers because they can’t match my name to how it is correctly spelled.

        It’s the equivalent of if my last name was vanHorn on the SS card and my passport says van Horn.

    2. Careless*

      I lost my first vaccine card (and I’m usually so good at not losing things!) and my second shot is on a new card where the first shot is blank with a line through it. One thing that’s helpful is my state has a vaccination portal where you can log in and download your vaccination history. It’s easy to print off a nice certificate with the dates and vaccine lot numbers and everything. It doesn’t look the same as the vaccine card everyone’s used to, but it’s further proof if anyone ever gives you trouble.

    3. Teapot Repair Technician*

      For a long time, my vaccine card didn’t even have my name on it. Now it has my name written in my own handwriting.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I definitely wrote my own name on my vaccine card; they were giving them out with stickers for the location/date and vaccine dose filled in and told us to write in our info. Then at the second dose someone filled in that info.

    4. dealing with dragons*

      my husband got a re-issued one cause they put his birthdate as two days later than it was. he did it during his second shot, so not sure how to update it later.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you got your shot through a medical system that has online records, you can request a copy of your record as backup. I got mine through a large hospital system and downloaded the note with my info, patient number, and date of my second shot (and it says “2nd dose” on it). Basically everything included on the CDC card without the logo.

      My passport was misspelled for a long time. I got it fixed with my renewal, but it never caused problems (it was one letter off and I have a long surname, it was hard to see). Basically, you’re probably fine.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        If you’re in the US, check to see if your state has a public portal in which you can request your vaccination records. I happen to live in such a state, and was able to download a copy of my records (I had to temporarily upload ID and a few other things), which is a good thing as I have zero idea where my card wound up.

    6. Becca*

      Mine worries me a bit since I ended up having to reschedule the second dose and getting them different places and had to correct them that I was getting the second, not first. Supposedly this wasn’t fully fixed on my record card though I can’t tell the difference (maybe the fact it has an “expiration?”).
      My school didn’t seem to have a problem verifying it (and said they had *something* on record when I tried to set up other health services recently), but I decided to go look and *I* can’t find it, and I’m not in in person classes right now so they might not have told me if I didn’t need testing anyway? Oh well, it’ll get sorted out sometime.

  10. rnr*

    I guess I was living under a rock and somehow hadn’t heard of this. This is awesome! I think my company would fall under these requirements, but so far I haven’t heard anything from leadership. They decided a few weeks ago not to do a vaccine mandate on their own, but this should change things. They currently require masks, but it’s going to be a real relief to know that people are vaccinated or have a negative test when I’m in the office.

  11. dustycrown*

    It’s just my opinion, but I can imagine employers agreeing to pay for weekly testing just because an employee opts out of the vaccine. If you have a ~legitimate~ religious or medical reason not to be vaccinated, maybe, but there’s no reason for an employer to subsidize your unvaccinated status based on your personal or political beliefs.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      That strikes me as very sensible. Health exemption? The company will pay to keep you safe.
      ‘I don’t want to/it’s not tested/my personal beliefs are against vaccines’ etc? You get to pay the cost.

      1. Duc Anonymous*

        This is what my (hospital system) facility does. Both medical and religious exemptions are acceptable but medical exemptions get a weekly no-cost test and religious exemptions get a (heavily discounted) test at their cost. I’m okay with that.

        1. allathian*

          Maybe. I just wish that at hospitals would be mandated to require vaccines for all employees whose work involves caring for vulnerable patients, with no exemptions. Antivaxxers shouldn’t work in healthcare in any capacity, for that matter.

          1. Mannequin*

            People who believe that their religion gives them the right to spread contagious diseases shouldn’t work in healthcare either.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve been thinking about this, because there are lots of people in my situation. Not vaccinated yet (for Reasons) but want to be and plan to soon. Here’s the part that I think is very typical — I caught COVID in August. I’m recovering, and my doctor advised to wait 90 days before I get vaccinated. And LOTS of doctors advise waiting 90 days after getting COVID to get the vaccine. If the mandate were instituted today, I’d opt for weekly testing because it hasn’t been 90 days. And I wouldn’t be delighted to pay for it. There’s quite a few people in this waiting scenario that will need to opt for testing for a window of time.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        My understanding is the original reason it was recommended to wait 90 days after recovering from COVID was because vaccines were scarce and it was expected natural immunity would last at least 90 days in most people, not because there is any medical reason to wait longer than a couple weeks past recovery before getting the shot. They were mainly trying to prioritize people with no protection at all so they’d get shots first.
        If you were treated with monoclonal antibodies you do have to wait 90 days after that to get the vaccine, but if you were not, the waiting period is equivalent to the end of the isolation period. I’m not telling you to ignore your doctor by any means, but trying to provide additional context.

    3. Maglev to Crazytown*

      This has been an incredibly stressful mandate to deal with as someone who legitimately cannot take the vaccination. Living a lifetime with life-threatening chronic illness is stressful enough, without having to lose sleep debating if I should risk my life to take the vaccine, or accept losing my career. I will gladly pay whatever out of pocket testing cost is needed to not have to make that decision.

    4. Flower necklace*

      My district is implementing a vaccine or testing mandate and they are paying for testing for everyone who isn’t vaccinated, regardless of the reason. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re paying for all testing because they’re afraid of losing employees.

  12. Teapot Repair Technician*

    My employer seems to be counting on the honor-system to know who’s vaccinated. We answered an email survey: “Are you vaccinated? Y/N,” and that’s it.

    I’m not too worried since my coworkers are generally honest (if they weren’t, the company would have bigger problems), but it is slightly eyebrow-raising.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      That would cause me some concern, too. When my employer (a state government) required everyone to report their vaccine status, those who reported that they were vaccinated were required to upload a PDF of either their vaccine card or their records from the statewide vaccine registry to prove it. I heard grumbling about that from a few folks, but I thought it was a terrific idea.

      1. alienor*

        At my former employer, they offered the option of no mask in the office if you were vaccinated (this was in that window of time between when vaccinations became widely available and when Delta happened; I’ve heard it’s reversed since then) but you had to prove it by showing your vaccine card. You would then get a sticker to put on your employee badge so you could be maskless.

    2. A Non Non Non*

      Yeah, my company is only requiring self-attestation of vaccine or test and while I think my coworkers are honest in general, it makes me less comfortable. Not sure why they can’t/won’t ask for proof (I mean, I’m sure self-attestation is easier, but proof is safer, even if they only spot-check).

    3. JustaTech*

      Yeah, that’s what my company is doing too.
      Even though two of our locations are in states that require more details. It took months for Legal to finally allow our safety folks to ask the question – which is just nuts when we already all have to say if we’ve had our HepB shots!

    4. SpaceySteph*

      Our company has said they “can” ask for proof at any time. I suppose some people will still try to lie but it may be back to bite them one day.

  13. Remote For Now But Nervous*

    Can anyone speak to companies that have made it a policy that you cannot ask anyone else about their vaccination status? That’s probably allowable in the US, yes?

    1. Dino*

      Mine did that. They said it’s a HIPAA violation, which is hilarious because we are required to take HIPAA training through work. I don’t know how they thought that would be a good explanation.

      1. Purple Cat*

        Ha. My HR sent out the same reason about HIPAA and it just made me roll my eyes and totally discount the entire message.

        1. pancakes*

          Just the one message, not HR more broadly? With that message, they revealed that they either do not know how to find extremely basic and important information about which regulations apply to your workplace and which do not, or that they take it for granted management permits them to misguide employees about extremely basic and important regulations for their own convenience.

    2. goducks*

      Yes in that free speech doesn’t apply in the workplace, generally, so employers can forbid a topic. But no in the context that employees discussing working conditions is protected by law. So, it kind of depends on the context of the conversation. Given that we’re in a pandemic, vax status could reasonably fall under this, in the right conversation.

    3. allathian*

      It’s to prevent accusations of discrimination at work due to someone’s medical or disability status. I see the reasoning, because if I know for sure someone’s an antivaxxer, I refuse utterly to have anything to do with them in my personal life. If I find out that a coworker is an antivaxxer, I’ll have as little to do with them as possible (strictly business, no friendliness or warmth, I *despise* antivaxxers) and won’t be happy to share airspace with them, with or without a mask. OTOH, if someone says they have a medical exemption, they’re sharing private medical information with me that they shouldn’t have to share, and in that case, I’d be afraid of making them sick more than anything else.

      That said, when we do go back to the office on a hybrid basis, I’m not too worried. Everyone I care about outside of work is vaxxed, our leadership has been very pro-vax, while respecting the rights of individuals to make their own decisions.

      1. allathian*

        We also have religious exemptions, but discrimination against religious belief only applies to organized religions. You can’t just claim a religious exemption for simply any “religious” belief, no matter how sincere it is.

        1. Texan in exile*

          Exactly. I want nothing to do with antivaxxers – they should be named and shamed – and want to be very careful not to harm someone who can’t be vaxxed for medical reasons. I want to know who’s not vaxxed and why.

        2. Texan in exile*

          And what religions object to vaccines? I think Christian Science objects to some medical procedures, but I have never heard of mainstream Christianity or of Judaism rejecting vaccines.

          1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

            Some sects of Judaism do. I’m sure there are sects of other religions that do as well; I’m just not familiar with them. Just because a religious sect isn’t mainstream or as mainstream as others doesn’t make its beliefs less valid (which I know that’s not how you meant your comment..

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Not true about Judaism. Judaism supports vaccination and the concept of Pikuakh nefesh, acting to save one’s own or another’s life, is a primary value.

              Only two religions actually support people not getting vaccinated as a tenet of the religion — Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church. And even the Christian Scientists don’t have strict rules against vaccination and members can receive required vaccinations.

      2. Texan in exile*

        Exactly. I want nothing to do with antivaxxers – they should be named and shamed – and want to be very careful not to harm someone who can’t be vaxxed for medical reasons. I want to know who’s not vaxxed and why.

  14. Winterbourne*

    I’m wondering how this will work for companies with over 100 employees but with branches with fewer than 100. For example, a large, regional non-profit with over a thousand employees overall, but broken into locations with 60+ employees each. Is it figured by location, or by employer?

    1. DennisorDenise*

      I’m a contractor, and I work in another state from my company, but they are preparing all of us, no matter where we are, to get vaccinated, so not by location for us. I work with/next to state employees who will not be under the mandate.

    2. someone*

      Depends on how they’re structured and how the law is worded. There was some controversy when a bunch of franchises applied and approved for the covid small business loans since each franchise was technically a small business.

  15. UnpopularOpinion*

    I know this may not be a popular opinion but I believe that this is a huge overstep by the President. The federal government should never have any say on what private businesses can and can’t do (within the law). I’m vaccinated myself and keep wishing/hoping/praying that others will as well, but it’s not the government’s job to dictate that. If a private business wants to mandate it for their people then go right ahead (and please do!), but the only businesses the government should be able to mandate the vaccine for are the government owned ones (military, post office, government building, and even can see government contractors). At the end of the day the government cannot force other people to do what they want them to do. It’s not what this country was founded on.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      ” The federal government should never have any say on what private businesses can and can’t do (within the law)”

      This feels like a contradictory statement

      1. quill*

        It’s almost like some people think that laws are never made by the federal government, or that they were all made in 1776. :/

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        Because it is a total contradiction. There are tons of regulations that exist governing worker safety, the rights of employees, and business practices. This will become one of those things.

        The country was not founded as some libertarian paradise where there was freedom for all. There was relatively more freedom for a certain population, but other populations were enslaved or disenfranchised in a variety of ways. Vaccine mandates have existed for a long time and most people in the country are vaccinated against a variety of diseases and they have done just fine. For goodness sake, George Washington forced troops to take an inoculation against disease during the revolutionary war. No one is reinventing the wheel here.

        1. quill*

          Also the libertarian “freedom for all” ethos tends to actually boil down to “freedom for ME” given that other people’s rights to some degree of public safety get absolutely dismissed.

      3. Unpopular Opinion*

        What I was insinuating was that I’m perfectly aware that we have laws and regulations which cover private businesses, however we do not currently have a law that mandates this vaccine. I’m merely pointing out that executive orders are not meant to bypass laws. I mentioned below as well that the last President had a habit of over reach when using executive orders. Each time these were pointed out and stopped by courts and rightfully so. It’s important to realize that both sides can do wrong things. Hopefully private businesses will choose to implement this policy on their own. I just don’t believe the government has the right to force them to, and I’d be surprised if the courts disagree.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I highly hope that at some point people will realise that this isn’t political. A virus does not care what your views are.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Except vaccine mandates are nothing new. George Washington required the troops to be vaccinated against smallpox. Public schools require kids to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, Diptheria, chickenpox, etc. Many colleges also require vaccines. Why people are getting so worked up over *this specific* vaccine, when there’s a freaking pandemic happening, is beyond me.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I think some of it is the ‘new technology’ fear, which is actually not founded in the science (and several vaccines are more standard recombinant virus ones anyway – like Astra Zeneca) as mRNA vaccines have been in development since I was getting my virology degree (a long time ago) and they’ve already been developed in the past for other coronaviruses – so for Covid it really was just a case of isolating, genetic sequencing the virus and slotting the code into vaccine production.

        I’d love a widespread and easy to read ‘here’s how the vaccines work, here’s how they’re safe’ leaflet/poster campaign too. Anyone good at graphics? :)

      2. Unpopular Opinion*

        You mentioned a military rule which would fall under the government mandating it for their own “businesses” and schools which are either public entities which also falls under government purview or private entities which make those decisions for themselves. It has nothing to do with this particular vaccine. Like I said I’ve gotten it myself and constantly encourage others to do the same. This is about government overreach and just because it’s for “the greater good” doesn’t mean that the government has the right to do it. We vote on laws here. I also feel the need to point out that the last President did the same thing on several of his executive orders and everyone rightfully pointed out that it was over reach. I’m simply pointing out that this is the same, and it’s important to recognize that neither side is perfect in their approach to things.

        1. quill*

          Telling people “to work for the government you must either be vaccinated or, if you cannot be, be tested” is absolutely not the same as previous executive orders that had nothing to do with public health.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah, “not what this country was founded on…” arguments have a lot of problematic elements but this one has the additional property of being untrue.

      4. not a doctor*

        It’s worth noting in this context that many state governments can and do also mandate vaccinations for most private schools.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Sadly, there’s a lot of people who *won’t* do anything to stop this pandemic unless they are actually forced to.

      A deadly virus sweeping across the world requires a lot of effort from all to stop – and if the decision not to vaccinate only affected one single person I wouldn’t care if they chose not to.

      But it effects a LOT of people. They spread the virus (vaccination provides the best protection), they harbour it and generate new strains that may be more deadly and less susceptable to a vaccine protection, they put the lives of people who *can’t* be vaccinated at risk…

      Basically when it comes to deadly infectious viruses I support any effort by any government to get the population safe.

      1. quill*

        Carrying the virus is a risk to the rest of the public, not just yourself. The government is well within it’s rights to make you take precautions to prevent you from increasing the risk to public health.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think that it’s been decided we’ll before our lifetimes that vaccines for public health are a case where the government can make those decisions. That’s why smallpox & polio aren’t something the average American worries about anymore.

    5. X*

      If you didn’t notice, there’s a global pandemic. This is a public health matter. Opinions like yours are one of the reasons the situation has become so serious.

    6. First time anon*

      I am a bit puzzled by this response. Doesn’t the government tell businesses what they can and can’t do on a regular basis (e.g. OSHA and NLRB rules)?

    7. AndersonDarling*

      OSHA is a federal agency that protects the health and safety of workers. That’s what it does. If we didn’t have laws regulating the safety of workers then we would still be employing 8 year olds in factories. We wouldn’t have fire exits and capacity limits in work buildings. We wouldn’t have minimum wages and anti-discrimination laws if we didn’t have federal regulations.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We’re not actually debating this here, just discussing how it will work, so I’m closing this thread (and ask that everyone respect that since I’m attempting to be on vacation).

    9. Morgaine2005*

      “At the end of the day the government cannot force other people to do what they want them to do. It’s not what this country was founded on.”

      That’s … literally the point of government. Making people do what they wouldn’t otherwise do (or stopping them from doing things they want to do that will cause harm to themselves or others). Or, as Federalist Paper No. 51 puts it: “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

    10. braindump*

      “At the end of the day the government cannot force other people to do what they want them to do.” Jacobson v Massachusetts disagrees.

      It would be nice if everyone cared about public health but unfortunately the gov’t has to act like the adult in this situation.

  16. Bubbly*

    I work in a small office of mostly people of a certain political leaning. One person came to work coughing and refused to wear a mask. That person made literally every single unvaccinated employee mildly to severely sick and is dead themselves. Employee’s families got sick including one fully vaccinated. I was exposed, but fully vaccinated and was asymptomatic and negative.
    I wish we could make everyone eligible get vaccinated or else. They’re killing people and I have to work to live. Changing jobs here probably wouldn’t make a difference.

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      I’m so glad you are okay. Your story really illustrates the importance of this measure. There are people out there who actively do not care if they contract this disease or spread it to other people. The world is all about them in their minds and it is their right to infect people, and even to kill them, rather than finding themselves uncomfortable or inconvenienced for a moment.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        3 dead friends behind me – all who were in the ‘under 40 and healthy’ bracket and one was a previous coworker. The grief really translates into anger when someone tries to tell me at work that it’s not really that deadly.

        My heart goes out to everyone who’s lost friends/family/coworkers etc to this.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          I am with you there. In my entire social sphere, I know into the double digits of people who died of this. When people look at the statistics they want to write off these losses as if all these people had one foot in the grave already and that is why they died, but it simply isn’t true.

          Even some of the people I knew who had health concerns… if not for COVID, they could have been just fine for years or even decades more. I only know one person who died from COVID who was already not doing well enough that it was touch and go for them anyway. One.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Very much agreed. Also, part of what caused my break down last year was the ‘it’s only dangerous to the over 40s/fat/disabled’ narrative because I’m in all 3 of those and…I dunno, it made me feel like society was saying that I was an acceptable loss.

            I’m hoping the UK will follow the USA in this and require vaccines at work.

            1. quill*

              Yeah, also the way they were just cavalierly saying that long before they had any decent amount of data, no info on what the supposed mechanism of ‘being young keeps you safe’ was supposed to be, the endless ‘well kids don’t get it!’ as if any virus in the history of evolution was widely transmissible yet only chose adult victims…

              It’s been exhausting. The six foot social distancing rule has done more for me not shaking people until their teeth rattle than my own patience, I fear.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              As someone who has also been discussed as disposable I empathize. I would miss you though!

              1. Blue*

                So, so tired of people telling me to my face that they’re happy to see me die and apparently feeling very virtuous about that. So tired.
                Bubbly, that story enraged me on your behalf and I’m so sorry you were put through that. Thank g-d you were vaccinated, at least.

                1. Third or Nothing!*

                  My husband and I are in the same boat. It’s completely broken me. In some good ways, like I advocate much stronger now for all vulnerable people, but I also don’t trust anyone any more and that hurts my heart.

                  You’re not alone hon. <3

              2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                I’ve had the day from hell today but you’ve really put a smile on my face. Thank you :)

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      This is part of the reason my husband has temporarily left his career to be a stay at home dad. He is a welder and we live in Texas. Protections and pay have always been awful, and then the pandemic came and there was an attitude of “only wimps take precautions,” so he’s basically on sabbatical until conditions improve. We are extremely fortunate that my income is enough to keep us afloat without the cost of daycare or commuting or eating out. It’s not exactly fun but it’s the best option for us right now. A lot of my friends don’t even have that option at all.

  17. Calvin B*

    We recently had a townhall at my company regarding the mandate. The CEO has clearly been following the vaccine news closely (last year he would always update the whole company on vaccine news during his monthly townhalls), and he sounded a little disappointed that apparently only about 40-45% of the company has been vaccinated.

    I was on a Teams call with a couple of co-workers. I don’t technically supervise them but I kind of do–I think I am the only person in the company they communicate with on a daily basis and I generally tell them what to do day-to-day. Neither of the people on the call were vaccinated, and neither felt the need to get vaccinated. (Both have college degrees and are in their late twenties, one white and one Black). One guy said he’d already had covid based on an antibody test, the other seemed to have vague misgivings about the vaccine’s safety, but seems to believe in masks.

    I have been trying to suggest they get vaccinated without overstepping my boundaries by reminding them that my vaccine experience wasn’t bad, and that workers with covid can hurt the company (since people coming in contact with a covid-positive co-worker have to quarantine for a while).

    It has not seemed to work so far, which isn’t a huge shock. I would like to think they respect me but not to the degree that me suggesting something is going to make them do a complete 180 on an issue. We are remote, so while vaccination is CLEARLY the best thing for them to do, it is not affecting their day-to-day work lives that much. Not sure if anyone else is dealing with the same thing, but obviously I would like to persuade as many people as possible to get the vaccine.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      My spouse’s co-workers are the same way. Their news feeds are telling them that they don’t need to get vaccinated because it’s just a cold and it’s all being blown out of proportion. One guy is 65, in poor health, but he is convinced that he wouldn’t get sick if he caught covid.
      Many people won’t open their minds until they see tragedy with their own eyes.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        That is so true and so sad. Someone I know just became a widow over this. She isn’t even 40 years old, but their community is one who has stressed that it is no big deal. Her husband was young, but he had health concerns, however he didn’t believe it was an issue for him… and now he’s gone.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah. In your spouse’s coworker’s case, that may just be a tragedy waiting to happen. Of course, not everyone who’s over 60 and in poor health dies if they get Covid, but the risk is much greater than for younger people with no health conditions that make them more vulnerable (including morbid obesity).

  18. Prefer my pets*

    I’m going to be curious if it actually goes into effect, especially for feds. I’m a federal employee and actually canceled my union membership because they are planning to challenge it. (I had a pretty aggressive back & forth with a national-level union rep about other people’s conspiracy theories and ignorance did not trump my right to a safe workplaces, any more than their objections to drug testing before operating heavy equipment did.)

    I’ve been making a point of responding to every single feedback opportunity to say that my biggest concern is that our maximum telework policy will be revoked when this goes into effect but there is no mechanism to inform employees (especially high risk) of who is unvaccinated so we can not be in the same room & ensure they are properly wearing masks at all times (most of the antivaxxers in my agency are also antimaskers, wear them over their noses, etc). Not sure if it helps, but at least it provides a counter to the very loud nutjobs, who frankly hold enough other problematic opinions losing them from the workforce would be a win for the public we serve.

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      I agree with you. I am very pro-union, but the unions that are fighting this have lost my respect. We do not have to defend every single position people take just because they are members!

    2. Me*

      “other people’s conspiracy theories and ignorance did not trump my right to a safe workplaces”

      That has been exactly my pushback at my local government employer. Before delta did it’s think the plan was as of September only unvaxxed had to mask and it was on the honor system.

      No ma’am/sir. I have a right to a safe work space and either you are going to require proof of vax/testing regularly or you are going to keep letting us work remote and enforce masks for all.

      I’m bummed the rule won’t apply to us, but I’m going to continue to be the squeaky wheel.

    3. Jackalope*

      This is SO hard. I’m a union rep and am 100% pro vax but my hands to a certain extent are tied by the National protocol. My understanding in our case is that we aren’t fighting the mandate itself, but we would, for example, stand up for an employee that is threatened with losing their job and make sure all proper hoops are jumped through. (This is not a comment on your union since I don’t know which one it is; just this is what I *think* ours is doing.) But it’s been really tough figuring out how to handle this situation.

  19. Keep On Trucking*

    I’m curious to see how this will impact the already impacted freight industry. Both my husband and I work for different, large freight companies, and there is already a shortage of CDL drivers. While we’re both pro-mask and vaccinated, we both have to be at work every day around a large number of drivers who are anti-mask and anti-vaccine. A lot of these drivers seem to have gotten a pass on breaking local mandates because we can’t afford to be short any more drivers. A lot of them are threatening to quit over a vaccine mandate. While I believe the mandate is the right thing to do and a lot of drivers won’t actually quit, I can see this pushing a lot of the retirement-aged drivers to finally retire.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Think of it like a safety procedure (which it is). If there was something to do with the trucks that made them more dangerous to be in the roads, but could be solved by a simple switch/policy would you want the drivers who decided the rules don’t apply to them to drive around unsafely?

      Or a welder who refused to wear a mask?

      1. Keep On Trucking*

        Oh, we absolutely described as a safety protocol to drivers. Typically, we explain it like the seat belt policies. Do they enjoy wearing their seat belts? No. Do Seat belts prevent 100% of all accidents? No. If you’re wearing a seat belt and get into in an accident, are you much less likely to be seriously injured? Yes. That’s why seat belts are mandatory.
        My concern here is that CDL drivers are already in short supply and are an aging population. A lot of carriers have felt their hands tied due to the supply chain gridlock. While not everyone will quit/retire instead of being vaccinated, losing more CDL drivers in any carrier’s network will more than likely have an impact on the entire freight network.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I get where you’re coming from – I work for the railway and there’s always a shortage of fully trained and experienced train drivers and signallers so if a load of them decided quitting was preferable to vaccination/masks it would still cost them their jobs but would have a significant knock on effect.

        2. LCH*

          how’s the pay? if it’s good, sounds like the industry needs to get more serious about recruitment. if it’s bad, well…

          1. keep*

            Most tenured CDL drivers with the right endorsements (hazmat, tanker endorsed, etc) easily pull in 6 figures a year. The industry as a whole has been in high gear as far as recruitment for the last 5-6 years. Most companies are paying for the potential drivers to go through driving school at this point. It’s just not a popular career choice

        3. goducks*

          CDL drivers are already subject to regular drug testing, correct? The alternative to vaccination in the OSHA plan is regular Covid testing. It’s not really much different.

      2. Squidhead*

        I like your welding analogy and I am going to expand it: A welder who won’t wear a mask basically puts themself in the most danger. It’s *their* eyes getting damaged. A welder who won’t use safety screens (which protect bystanders from looking at the arc, and help contain sparks) is endangering *everyone* in the vicinity and maybe the whole project (if a fire should start). Requiring a mask makes sense because it prevents injury (ie: expenses) to the welder. Requiring safety screens also makes sense to prevent wider damage, especially to those who might be unaware of the danger (working on another floor, unaware that welding is even happening).

        However, the unfortunate flip side of this is that lots of unsafe but necessary welding happens every day and no one actually gets hurt. The safety precautions are there “just in case” and honestly might be irrelevant some of the time. And with some of our essential industries, it feels like the same dilemma. We *need* supplies to get delivered on time. We *need* healthcare workers to stay at work. Obviously it would be safer to do those things with the utmost precaution, but the risks of not doing them at all are pretty high.

        I work at a hospital where we are required to be vaccinated; no option for testing. We are closing patient care units due to lack of staff. So someone, somewhere, isn’t getting care they need because of this. It’s not a hypothetical. And I honestly don’t know where the “best” answer lies. Personally I think everyone should get vaccinated if at all possible, duh, but recognizing that it simply won’t happen that way…is it better to do the necessary welding without the safety screen, or is it better to let the roof fall in? So I definitely take the Keep On Trucking’s point here!

        (Not trying to make work for Alison! I know the law isn’t up for debate and I’m trying to share my perspective on the impact of a law that I truly believe is a good idea but people’s response to the law creates some serious challenges.)

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you quit because you’re not vaccinated and don’t want to be vaccinated, then you’re not eligible for unemployment from what I’ve read. Reality might persuade them where other things haven’t.

      1. Keep On Trucking*

        It won’t matter if they can’t file for unemployment. most of the ones who quit will more than likely be hired immediately by another company desperate for drivers

        1. Jackalope*

          But if the other companies are also bound by the vaccination rule, won’t this make it so they can’t rehire those truckers either?

        2. pancakes*

          There is some data coming out of areas that have already had vaccine mandates, and it seems clear that the number of people who threaten to quit is much, much, much higher than the number of people who do in fact quit.

          A couple examples: Maine Department of Labor released a report today about the state-wide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers that they announced last month. 65 out of 33,000 people quit (0.19%).

          In Washington State, state workers are subject to a vaccine mandate. According to a Seattle Times article from a few days ago, “[a]s of Sept. 6, the state had 3,891 requests for religious exemptions, according to data compiled by the Office of Financial Management. Of those, 737 requests were granted — but accommodations were made for only seven workers. Many employees whose exemptions are denied will be given extra time to get vaccinated before they ultimately lose their jobs.”

          It’s too soon to speak with certainty about this, of course, but I think it’s reasonable to say that a lot of people who like to huff and puff about quitting probably won’t.

  20. Meep*

    I was/am on one of the two major vaccine trials (not J&J). I signed up because one of my coworkers was treating COVID diagnoses as gossip and was exposing me to COVID weekly with her stupidity. (E.g. let me sit in the same room with someone who had been exposed and only telling me after the fact, refusing to wear a mask, rushing into the office (maskless) whenever she had been exposed to someone, refusing to take COVID tests or when she did, refusing to stay home… etc). The final straw was when she was complaining about how our boss’s housekeeper had tested positive for COVID and how scary it was. Her friend was waiting on a COVID test because she was symptomatic and it was super serious. And then she mentioned both of them had gone to dinner last night and had eaten out…

    When she found out she flipped out on me for doing something so reckless. lol. But unlike her, I never got COVID. (Thanks vaccine!) Did I also mention she refuses to get basic vaccines?

    I would love a vaccine mandate in the office for her exclusively. Even if I have been safe from her for nearly a year.

    1. Never Boring*

      Have you talked to HR about how she is knowingly making your work environment unsafe? If so, what is the response? If not, why not?

  21. JohannaCabal*

    I feel badly, though, for individuals with legitimate medical reasons not to get the vaccine. I’ve been vaccinated (and I would have been under the “individuals with medical conditions group” right after the elderly until they opened the vaccine up for everyone in my state). It turns out I may have a different condition than what my doctor thought so this may impact my ability to get the booster and, possibly, the flu shot.

    It’s always a few nuts who spoil things for the rest of us….

    1. rnr*

      I would look at it this way: I think this is a net positive for people who legitimately can’t get the vaccine, because it means there are more vaccinated people around and they are less likely to get infected from someone else. Not sure how it will work with people who have to get tested regularly, but ideally (in my opinion), those who truly cannot be vaccinated for legit reasons shouldn’t have to pay for testing and should be able to do it on work time.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        That’s a great way to look at it!

        I’ve got a staff member who legitimately cannot be vaccinated and also can’t wear a face mask (She wears a face shield and I very much believe that her medical exemptions from both are 100% legitimate). She’s one of the reasons I’m so adamant to everyone else that they have to get vaccinated/wear masks/observe proper distancing. Because I don’t want to lose her.

    2. TiffIf*


      I have noticed though that anyone who has legitimate medical reasons for needing accommodations (to just about any policy) are really willing to work with the system and, for example, with Covid, be very vigilant about other risk mitigation strategies–such as masking and social distancing.

      I have a close friend who is immunocompromised and while she has been vaccinated, there is a good chance it is less effective given her medical history. So she is still very vigilant about masking, social distancing, hand-washing, etc.

      If someone claims to have a medical exemption for the vaccine and yet does nothing to adopt other risk mitigation strategies or is an anti-masker, I’m dubious of any of their claims.

    3. Splendid Colors*

      One of the people I interact with regularly for work-stuff has a legit medical exemption.* I worry so much about giving them COVID if I get a mild case that I mistake for allergies.

      *I don’t know their medical details, but have a general idea of Serious Chronic Medical Issues. Plus their input into mask policies, COVID notification apps, etc. has been consistent with concerns that they will be inadvertently exposed.

  22. KaiFae*

    Just today in a meeting, I had a co-worker(who works remotely) say that they are willing to be fired over for not getting the vaccine if the mandate goes into effect. I can only hope this will not be a hill that they literally die on.

    1. anony mouse*

      Personal opinions aside, why would a fully remote employee need to be vaccinated? They are not a liability to other coworkers.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        They’re a liability to other people. Unless they literally stay in their house 24/7 and have no human contact.

        1. Come On Eileen*

          But it’s not OSHA’s job to regulate all human contact. Their job is to keep workplaces safe. And if remote employees are (at least in my case) 100% not allowed on the work site or allowed to see any coworker in person, seems like OSHAs authority over whether I get a vaccine ends there.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            My feelings on this whole vaccinated issue are, I admit, really rigid and unlikely to be changed but I can at least see what you mean. I don’t agree with it, but honestly I can’t put into words.

          2. Aitch Arr*

            But when does that become a business hardship? When are they not able to fulfill a core function of the job?

            If an employee who at least a couple of times a year needs to visit an office or a client or go to a meeting/event, just saying “I’m not vaccinated so I can’t go” isn’t going to be an excuse any more.

      2. JustaTech*

        So, my company has fully remote employees who have been fully remote employees for years and years who honestly are some of the *first* people in our company who needed (and wanted) to get vaccinated, because they are our regional sales people. And we sell a medical treatment, so they’re going to doctors’ offices to sell the product.

        So “fully remote” doesn’t always mean “works from home”. It can also mean “works from the road”.

    2. JustaTech*

      I do wonder if those people understand that, if a mandate goes into effect, it’s going to be very hard for them to find another job if they stay unvaccinated. Maybe at a business too small to be covered, but even then it’s the owner’s choice.

    3. Rational Lemming*

      I have questions about this!
      What happens if someone declines to be tested/vaccinated? Are they “fired” or is that considered to be a resignation – because they haven’t taken the necessary steps by the deadline? Would those people be allowed to file for unemployment?
      I hear a lot of similar bravado around being willing to be fired over this, and am just wondering about the logistics of how that would actually play out!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I rather suspect that if they refuse the vaccine or testing and there’s no medical reasons it gets treated as basically being fired for refusing to comply with a safety directive. As that is fired for cause I don’t think they’ll be eligible for unemployment benefits.

        However, I’m no legal expert.

      2. goducks*

        Think of this like any other health and safety rule. If an employee refuses to wear googles when working with chemicals, what happens? They get told to put them on or leave, right? If they leave, did they quit or were they fired? Does it even matter? For the purposes of UI, quit and fired alone are rarely deciding factors. A person can get UI regardless of what that status “officially” is, because the state makes decisions based on the facts of the termination of employment, not how it is coded. Everyone is always free to apply, the state makes the determination of whether the reason for discharge was a qualifying or disqualifying reason. I can’t imagine that any state will determine that ending employment due to refusing to comply with testing or vax will be a qualifying reason, but the US is a weird place right now and UI eligibility is set by the states, so it’s not beyond possibility that some state will grant it.

      3. HannahMiss*

        I work for an employer who’s mandated that you must be fully vaccinated by the end of this month (no testing option given, although that may be the medical accommodation you’d have to ask for). We’ve all heard through the grapevine of a few coworkers who put in their two weeks over the issue; some people may choose to resign rather than be fired just so they can avoid having a firing in their employment history. I have a feeling that anyone who hasn’t resigned by the deadline will be fired. This seems like a fair compromise to me, but other employers may treat it differently.

    4. Jackalope*

      Okay, a related question. A Facebook friend posted an utterly unfunny meme about someone saying, in effect, “I just fired 13 vaccinated employees, and now I’m down to 99! Easy peasy!” So my question is: does anyone know if that’s an option? Obviously a large company w/ 4 or 5 digit numbers of employees isn’t going to fire so many as to get below 100, but if an employer is close to that # and they fire people so they don’t have to enforce the vaccine mandate, will that be legal? And is it legal to fire people for…. following the law? I know that since this is the US, the answer might be yes bcs of at-will employment (except MT), but it seems really sketchy to fire people a) for following the law and b) so you don’t have to.

      (And I’m utterly against this idea in case it’s not clear; I just want to know if employers could do this or not.)

      1. All the words*

        This reminds me of all the frantic speculation that companies will just pack up and leave the U.S. if their taxes are increased. It’s click bait.

        IANAL so I can’t speak to the legality. It would certainly be despicable and unethical as all get out.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. Also, Alison wrote a bit about retaliation being illegal in the New York Magazine column linked above, and there’s a good deal more information about it on OSHA’s site. I wish more people would read up on this stuff rather than trying to learn about it by wondering aloud.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        I think the more likely case is a company in the low 100 range would drop below 100 people because some will quit over the mandate.
        My company is currently at 95 and HR says she plans to hire at least 7 more, as she thinks two may quit.

      3. JustaTech*

        I think that there are *state* laws about the amount of notice you have to give if you’re going to lay off a certain proportion of the company, but I don’t know if that’s only for publicly traded companies or if it applies to privately held companies as well.

        (A friend of mine was laid off because his company had two sites and needed to lay off half their workforce on short notice, and one of the sites was in a state that required 60 day notice, so it was the folks at the other site who got canned.)

        So laying off people just to avoid the vaccine requirement might be one of those “technically legal but dumb idea” things.

        1. pancakes*

          I think you’re thinking of the WARN Act, which is federal, and applies when an employer with more than 100 employees intends to fire 50 or more of them. It is not specifically about retaliatory firing, though I can imagine some retaliatory circumstances in which it might be useful to employees. It is not the only protection workers have against retaliatory firings.

  23. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Very, very well written article Alison. I especially like how clear you pointed things out. When it comes to virology and epidemiology and legal stuff there’s a lot of information out there that isn’t easily readable to the layperson. Having articles like yours help spread the important points without overloading people on jargon.

  24. Auntie Nanny Mouse*

    I have a question I hope someone can help me with. My company is… not the best? when it comes to enforcing COVID related rules. We have all the rules in place, but no one actually seems to hold anyone accountable for them. We didn’t, for example, give people FFMLA time off for COVID/vaccines, we’re supposed to wear masks but people don’t, we’re not having visitors but we’re hosting the local Business Association’s meetings (!?), the list goes on.

    Anyway, my question is about reporting things to OSHA. What actually happens when a complaint is filed with them, assuming the complaint is valid? Is it a fine? Is the business shut down, temporarily or otherwise?

    I’m asking because I need this job! I really, really want to be safe, I have young kids at home, but I also want my company to start taking things seriously. I can’t afford to lose this job (I’m not really afraid of retaliation, but if contacting OSHA means my company will shut down and I’ll stop getting paid, that’s a big problem).

    I know the answer is to find a better company, but that’s just not in the cards right now, for reasons I can’t discuss here for fear of being too identifiable.

    1. pancakes*

      Please do a search for “how to file an OSHA complaint,” and some reading on this. (Alison linked to information about this in her New York Magazine column as well). There is an inspection process they follow. They don’t simply shut down the entire company.

  25. gsa*

    I definitely and genuinely do understand why asking someone if they are or are not vaccinated it not a HIPAA violation and why asking someone not only about their religious beliefs, AND having someone investigate them to determine if they are truly religious is not a violation of the Second Amendment.

    1. JustaTech*

      1) HIPAA only applies to health care providers. Your coworker’s doctor can’t tell you if they’re vaccinated (that’s a HIPAA violation) but there is nothing to stop your coworker from choosing to share. I think (but I am not 100% sure) that this would also apply to your company’s HR: your HR can’t tell you if your coworker is vaccinated.
      So you can totally ask your coworker whatever you want – nothing says they have to tell you, but nothing is preventing them from telling you all about their latest operation (for example).

      2) You mean the First Amendment. Second Amendment is about owning guns. 1) The first amendment applies to the government, not companies. (There are plenty of employers that demand statements of faith.) 2) If an employee claims a religious exemption then they’ve started that conversation. It’s not about the company just randomly demanding to know if you went to church on Sunday. The second part is harder, but if someone said plainly that they were claiming a religious exemption just because they can’t get a personal one, well, that’s good reason to not believe that they are sincere.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        ^This right here. And even in covered entities, employers can ask for proof of vaccination, TB testing, drug testing, etc.. If you want to remain in the position or get the job, you disclose this health information. If you have a medical or religious exemption you provide it and, in some cases, if the role can’t be altered to accommodate your exemption then you can’t be in the job. If don’t want to disclose, you are free to seek employment that doesn’t require these measures. This isn’t a new thing. At least with COVID-19 you don’t need to provide a chest X-ray when you have an immune system that thinks a TB test is worth freaking out over, despite never having had TB

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I am not a healthcare provider so I can ask anyone about their health status and medical info and not violate anything. You should look up the HIPAA law to see who it applies too.

    3. ThatGirl*

      HIPAA applies to medical professionals, not average citizens. Your doctor can’t give people your medical information without permission; you can tell anyone you like.

      The second amendment relates to guns, not religion??? But it’s not a first amendment violation either.

  26. softkittywarmkittylittleballoffur*

    I work for a small nonprofit which requires its employees to be vaccinated. This is great. However, we have a large indoor fundraising dinner coming up and my boss has refused to answer my question about whether the attendees, who do not work for the company, will be required to be vaccinated.

    I am wondering how to navigate this situation. I assume the venue will require their own people to be vaccinated, since it is a large venue, and we will be vaccinated, but I fear my boss’s lack of response means that they will not require attendees to be vaccinated, thereby putting all of us at risk.

    I’m guessing the law doesn’t apply to this situation. After four emails that were polite, delicately worded, but nonetheless clear and direct, I have no idea how to handle this. (I was just hired and while my title has seniority, I am essentially at the mercy of the BOD.)

  27. For Shame*

    Slate had an article earlier this week about the pay-for-religious-exemption industry. For shame!

    I’m going to take the spaces out of the link so that Alison doesn’t have to fish it out while she’s on vacation: (slate dot com) human-interest/2021/09/religious-covid-vaccine-exemption-letters-for-sale-profit (dot html)

    1. Aitch Arr*

      There’s an article on boston dot com about this as well. Local theology student who is charging $25 a pop for her webinar on how to file a medical exemption.


      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        There’s even been some doctors getting paid to write bogus exemptions, although at least they generally tend to lose their jobs once found out.

        1. TiffIf*

          A Florida district rewrote their mask mandate after a Chiropractor signed hundreds of mask waivers.

          This is why we can’t have nice things.

        2. Splendid Colors*

          California had a whole ballot initiative to change the school vaccination exemption policy a few years ago because too many parents were going to anti-vaxx doctors who gave bogus exemptions to childhood vaccinations. Now there are investigations of doctors who write suspicious exemptions.

          For example, if you’re a pediatric oncologist, it makes sense that your patients receiving ongoing cancer treatment would need vax exemptions. If you’re a general pediatrician and you have hundreds of patients with addresses from non-adjacent counties who saw you once and got a diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder or allergy that would be exacerbated by vaccination, yet somehow doesn’t need treatment, you get to explain this to the Medical Board.

  28. Donkey Hotey*

    My company just hired their 95th employee. I want this soooo bad, in part because one of the people I work with has been such an obnoxious anti-vaxxer and…. I suppose the polite term is “killroy” with his mask wearing.

  29. LS*

    Can you elaborate on the testing part of the mandate (if someone won’t get vaccinated)? I’ve heard the cost falls on the employer, is that true?

    1. LizB*

      I believe it’s up to employers to figure it out – I would guess most places will ask employees to submit a photo/copy of their vaccination card or a screenshot from the state vaccination database, much like they might ask you to submit proof of CPR certification or show appropriate ID when they’re doing your I-9 form. I don’t think self-report would likely be considered accurate enough.

  30. LifeBeforeCorona*

    This is perfect timing. Right now we are dealing with one co-worker who refuses to get vaccinated because of conspiracy theories. Management is trying a gentle approach and it’s not working. They can’t deal with the public because of their status which means that they spend 70% of the workday in the back while everyone else carries the load out front. Right now everyone is quietly fuming while doing a lot of extra work.

  31. CatLadyInTraining*

    Some of the people I know who will quit if they are required to get a vaccine. But, some of these people also complain about how they’re always broke….

    1. Dr B Crusher*

      That would be a reasonable outcome. Their colleagues, customers, and clients shouldn’t be forced to work with people who will not vaccinate.

Comments are closed.