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09/22/2021

Retailers detail operational questions for vaccine mandate

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture

From the cost of testing to record-keeping and verification, the retail industry — which supports more than 50 million jobs — has a lot of concerns about the implementation of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association and National Retail Federation have sent a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration highlighting the “considerable” operational challenges of implementing the vaccine mandate for retailers.  The letter poses key questions the retailers want to agency to consider as it finalizes the rule, which will be issued by OSHA and take the form of an Emergency Temporary Standard.

“As we have navigated federal and state requirements, recommendations, and protocols, we have learned that it takes time to implement successful testing and vaccination programs—particularly in the face of challenges related to availability, access, and verification,” the letter states. “As a result, we urge OSHA to consider the extensive measures that every company will need to undertake to implement the requirements of any ETS.”

The letter lists the key questions that RILA and NRF members have posed about the operational challenges that may arise under the ETS. These include (but are not limited to) the following.

• How will employers track, verify and record whether an employee has satisfied the requirement, including verifying vaccination status and test results and addressing the potential for fraud?

• What remedial actions can be taken in situations in which employees refuse vaccinations and testing?

• Who will incur the costs of testing? Will employers have the option to pass along the costs of tests to employees who refuse the vaccine to further incentivize vaccination?

• How should an employer apply the ETS to minors? In the retail sector, there are thousands of teenage workers who would need parental consent for the vaccine and testing.

• How is an employee defined? Does it include temporary, seasonal, or contingent workers? How should employers apply the new vaccination standard to independent contractors?

The full letter can be viewed here.

[Read More: Five-step plan to prepare for workplace vaccine mandate]