Companies have questions for Biden about vaccine mandates

Companies have questions for Biden about vaccine mandates


A trade group representing about 2,000 consumer brands sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday asking for clarification on his announcement last week that any company with more than 100 employees will soon need vaccinations or weekly tests.

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A trade group representing about 2,000 consumer brands sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday asking for clarification on his announcement last week that any company with more than 100 employees will soon need vaccinations or weekly tests.

Biden said last week that the Department of Labor and its occupational safety and health agency would be drafting the rules, which would affect around 80 million workers.

However, the mandate has created annoying problems for employers when dealing with the practical aspects of vaccination policy, said Geoff Freeman, president of the Consumer Brands Association trade group.

On Monday, Freeman urged Biden to “clarify immediately” how private companies should implement aspects of the White House plan to achieve “our common goal of increasing vaccination rates.”

He submitted 19 questions which were a “small sample” of the questions asked by the members of the trade group. Including:

– Which vaccination certificates do the companies have to collect and are booster vaccinations required?

– Do employees have to be fully vaccinated?

– Do workers who have had the coronavirus still need to be vaccinated or tested?

– Do the requirements only apply to vaccines that have been fully proven by the Food and Drug Administration? (The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is currently the only vaccine with full probation.)

– Who is responsible for vaccination tracking – the government or individual companies?

– What are the consequences of falsifying a vaccination status?

Other questions about tests and other policy details were related to how federal policies interact with state-level initiatives, who will be responsible for paying for the tests, and whether waivers would be allowed when employee absences or fluctuations caused disruptions in the supply chain.

Also worrying, Freeman said in an interview, is the slow pace at which the government tends to act compared to the quick decisions that private companies are used to making. This was a problem during the pandemic, he said.

“We have been working with either the Trump administration or the Biden administration and all the authorities involved for 19 months,” he said. “And the simple truth is, they have been slow to keep up with the pace of change.”

He added, “We all want to get to the other side of this thing as soon as possible. It won’t work in this scenario unless an entity like OSHA can move with the pace of the business environment. “

Large trade groups have generally supported the mandate that gives otherwise suspicious companies the excuse to request vaccination.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the largest corporate lobby group in the country, has said it will “work to ensure employers have the resources, guidance, and flexibility needed to keep their employees and customers safe and meet the requirements public health ”. Another major corporate advocacy group, the Business Roundtable, has said it “welcomes” the action taken by the Biden government.

But they also tried to understand the details and implications, which can vary depending on the size of the company. Does the number of employees in a company include part-time workers? What is the deadline for compliance? Will possible lawsuits slow the process down?

The White House has announced that it will provide further guidance by September 24th.

At this point, “there are more questions than answers,” says Ian Schaefer, partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb, who specializes in employment issues.

While companies are asking their lobbyists and lawyers for more insight, many are debating at the highest levels the reality of getting mandated, although they don’t yet know exactly what it might mean, he said.

“In the absence of actionable information that gives a bit more orientation and direction, I think they control what they can control, so to speak, which is currently a lot of internal politics,” said Schaefer.

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