Labor Department Delays Enforcement of Covid Vaccine Mandate for Large Employers

Labor Department Delays Enforcement of Covid Vaccine Mandate for Large Employers

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the authorization of the coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 at the White House in Washington, D.C., November 3, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The Labor Department announced on Saturday that it will delay full enforcement of its coronavirus vaccine mandate for large employers until February 9, after a series of legal battles made enforcement of the mandate uncertain.

The mandate by the agency’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration orders companies with 100 or more workers to require coronavirus vaccinations among employees, while employees who decline to be vaccinated will submit weekly coronavirus tests. The mandate was initially scheduled to go into effect on January 4.

A federal appeals court upheld the OSHA mandate on Friday, however the Labor Department said it would delay enforcement because of “uncertainty” created by a previous stay of the mandate by a lower court.

“To provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10,” the Department said in a statement.

Additionally, OSHA “will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals initially placed a hold on the OSHA mandate in November, saying in a ruling that implementing such a mandate likely exceeded OSHA’s authority.

OSHA “was not . . . intended to authorize a workplace safety administration in the deep recesses of the federal bureaucracy to make sweeping pronouncements on matters of public health affecting every member of society in the profoundest of ways,” the court said in its ruling.

However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the mandate on Friday.

“The harm to the Government and the public interest outweighs any irreparable injury to the individual Petitioners who may be subject to a vaccination policy, particularly here where Petitioners have not shown a likelihood of success on the merits,” Judge Jane Stranch wrote in her opinion.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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