OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS – What We Know Today

Published November 11, 2021

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On Thursday, November 4th, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that all employees are either vaccinated or subject to weekly COVID-19 tests and must wear face coverings while in the office. These standards are required to be implemented no later than December 5, 2021.
Employers should prepare for the ETS even though there are challenges being made in court. See below to read more about the ETS and what we know as of today.
ETS Guidelines

Covered Employers

  • Private employers with 100 or more employees must comply with the ETS:
  • The count should be done at the employer level, not by individual location
  •  Part-time employees count toward the total number of employees
  • Independent contractors do not count toward the total number of employees
  • Employees who work from home count toward the total


  • Workers who fall under the Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate
  • Workers subject to the requirements of the Healthcare ETS
  • Remote employees who never work in an office and never meet with co-workers or customers
  • Employees who work exclusively outdoors

Employer Policy on Vaccination

  • All employers affected by the ETS are required to implement a written mandatory vaccination and testing policy or adopt an alternative policy that complies with the requirement of weekly COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated employees and face coverings.
  • Employers are required to provide reasonable time to each employee during work hours for each of their primary vaccinations, including up to four hours of paid time
  • Employers are required to provide reasonable time and paid sick leave to employees to recover from side effects from a primary vaccination dose, but a specific amount is not disclosed

Testing for Unvaccinated Employees

  • Employers are to ensure that unvaccinated employees who report to a workplace where others are present at least every seven days are to be:
  • Tested for COVID-19 at least once every seven days; and
  • Provide documentation of the most recent COVID-19 test result to the employer no later than the seventh day following the date the employee last provided a test result
  • Employers are not required to pay for any costs associated with testing

Cost of Noncompliance

Covered employers who ignore the ETS while it is in effect could face OSHA citations and penalties of up to $13,653 per violation/employee per day, and additional citations or penalties as determined by OSHA.

How to be Proactive

  • Create vaccination policy
  • Determine vaccination status of each employee
  • Obtain acceptable proof of vaccination
  • Maintain records and roster of vaccination status
  • Ensure employees who are not vaccinated wear face coverings
  • Provide each employee with information about the ETS, including:
    • Vaccination efficacy
    • Safety & benefits
    • Protections against retaliation & discrimination, and
    • Consequences of knowingly supplying false documentation

It is important to keep your team informed and stay abreast of new developments. We will send updated information as it becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to our HR advisors for additional guidance.

If you would like further guidance on how to respond to the changing market, feel free to reach out to us at MCM HR Solutions.