The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its emergency temporary standard (ETS) on Thursday, mandating companies with 100 or more employees or those of any size that serve as government contractors to ensure that all their workers are vaccinated by January 4. The regulatory action provides a little more time for companies to prepare than the original early December estimate.
As expected, the ETS provides exceptions for religious or medical reasons but would require weekly testing of unvaccinated employees. And, unlike previous expectations that the testing would need to be the PCR test, National Air Transportation Association president and CEO Tim Obitts told attendees at the association’s Aviation Business Conference today that other testing types would be permitted.
Testing would be the responsibility of the employee, including the cost, while the employer does not have to give paid time off for testing. In an additional requirement not previously anticipated, unvaccinated individuals would need to wear masks, even when driving with others on company business.
Obitts said the ETS was presented with federal precedent, meaning that it supersedes individual test requirements, although he said he would not be surprised if this was tested in the courts.
Speaking to AIN, Obitts said the primary concern of NATA members is workforce, particularly in jobs such as line service or customer service representatives. These workers, he said, could opt to find positions elsewhere with smaller companies or those without government contracts.
“It will exacerbate the challengers already existing with workforce,” added NATA senior v-p Ryan Waguespack.