President Biden announced Thursday evening that the Department of Labor will now require all workplaces with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or show negative weekly COVID-19 tests in order to remain employed.
“We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from their unvaccinated coworkers,” Biden said in a press conference Thursday, adding that the Department of Labor will also require companies to give employees time off to get vaccinated.
The emergency rule — which will impact 80 million Americans nationwide — is part of the White House’s new COVID-19 action plan which aims to crack down on the large proportion of Americans that remain unvaccinated and continue to expand economic assistance for struggling businesses.
“What more is there to wait for, what more evidence is there to see?” Biden continued. “We made vaccines safe, free and convenient. We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin.”
On Friday, Jennifer Hatcher, Chief Public Policy Officer & Senior Vice President of FMI-The Food Industry Association, noted the organization’s concerns with the mandate, while acknowledging its support of vaccines in general.
“Since COVID-19 vaccines became available to the public, FMI and our members have been committed to encouraging food industry employees to receive the vaccine,” she said, “but also respected their right to make choices about their own individual health needs and those of their families.”
“The announcement yesterday by President Biden of an employer mandate on vaccinations and testing for employees, including fines and penalties for businesses that fail to comply, raises a tremendous number of questions including when the rules will be released; how long businesses have to get their full workforces vaccinated before fines are levied; availability of COVID-19 tests; and whether pharmacies that accept Medicare or Medicaid are covered under the requirement for federally funded health care settings, to name a few. We continue to review the outline the Biden administration announced and are collecting a list of critical questions that must be answered in order to even understand how to comply with this mandate within the framework of existing laws and regulations including privacy, employment discrimination and leave requirements. There are simply more questions than answers at this point.”
Hatcher added, “More than 10,000 of our member companies are providing vaccines in their supermarket pharmacies, making them a safe, convenient location for vaccinations for all Americans.”