What to Expect from OSHA on COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Rules

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
September 12, 2021

Erica Todd was quoted in the article, "What to Expect from OSHA on COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Rules," published by SHRM on September 12, 2021.

Businesses with at least 100 employees will soon be required to mandate that employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing. Employers are still waiting for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS), and some key questions have yet to be answered, but employers can take certain steps now to prepare.

With respect to accommodation requests, Erika noted that when an employee requests a medical exemption, an employer is entitled to require a reasonable amount of verification to confirm that the employee does have a bona fide medical reason not to be vaccinated. "At the same time, employers must maintain the confidentiality of any medical information they obtain when discussing an exemption."  

Erika said religious objections are protected even when they are not supported by a formal religious group, and employers should seek further verification only in rare circumstances if there is a specific reason to doubt that the employee's objection is religion-based. "Notably, political and philosophical objections are not protected by federal anti-discrimination law," she said.

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