Labor Dept.: Biden rule on vaccines to be published in 'coming days'

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A Biden administration regulation that requires large companies to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or regular testing for the virus will be put forth in the coming days, the Labor Department said Monday.

The department said the White House Office of Management and Budget finished its review of the emergency temporary standard written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a key last step before the regulation takes effect.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been working expeditiously to develop an emergency temporary standard that covers employers with 100 or more employees, firm- or companywide, and provides options for compliance,” the department said. “Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose either to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.”

The Labor Department said its regulation will require employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects.

Mr. Biden announced the regulation Sept. 9 as part of a broader plan to combat the delta variant of the coronavirus and mandate the vaccine for federal workers and contractors.

The rules are sure to spark legal challenges. Litigation will likely challenge OSHA’s authority to mandate things like vaccines or testing or take issue with the procedures used to craft and publish the emergency standard.

Some GOP-run states are pushing back against Mr. Biden‘s rules.

Iowa, for instance, passed a bill that approves unemployment benefits for people nudged out of their jobs by federal vaccine rules and requires employers to offer medical and religious exemptions to the mandates.

Businesses such as Delta Airlines said they were able to lift vaccination rates to 90% or higher without the use of mandates, while business lobbies have sought clarity on how the rules should be enforced or if there will be enough tests to go around when the mandate kicks in.

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