Local attorney weighs in on vaccine mandate, testing for certain companies


SAN DIEGO — California companies with 100 employees or more will either have to mandate their employees to get vaccinated or require them to get weekly testing by Jan. 4.

Employers have to provide their employees with paid time off in order to get vaccinated during work hours and also recover from any side effects, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID emergency temporary standard.

Laura Kelleher, attorney with Swan Employment Law, says if the company you are working for has less than 100 employees on site, the new guidelines still apply.

“If the employer has 100 or more, even if they are in all sorts different locations, it still applies to them,” Kelleher said. “However, there can be exceptions if they have workers who are working completely remotely and don’t come in contact with either customers or clients. But even if they come in contact with customers or clients on not that regular but some of the time bases, they are still subject to these requirements.” 

Kelleher says individual-owned franchises, with less than 100 employees, do not have to abide with the new regulations.

“Independently-owned franchises, even though it’s part of a larger company — if at the site of the independently-owned franchise has less than 100 employees — then the ETS actually does not apply to them,” Kelleher said.

OSHA said companies that fail to comply with the regulations could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation. Employees will be able to file a complaint if they see their employer is not following the rules, Kelleher adds.

OSHA drafted the rules under emergency authority meant to protect workers from an imminent health hazard. The agency estimated that the vaccine mandate will save more than 6,500 worker lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations over the next six months.

The weekly testing option does not apply to health care workers who work in a center who receive federal funding like a retirement home. Their deadline to be vaccinated against the coronavirus is Jan. 4.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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