US will make large firms give paid time off for vaccinations

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government will require companies with at least 100 workers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and paid sick leave to recover from effects of the shots, a Biden administration official said Monday.

Those requirements will be part of a pending federal rule that will spell out how large employers will meet a requirement that workers be vaccinated or tested regularly for the virus.

The White House budget office has completed its review of the rule being written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is expected to be released this week.

The rule – issued under emergency standards to respond to the pandemic — will cover firms with 100 or more employees, regardless of how many are located in any particular spot.

“Covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose either to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work,” a Labor Department spokesperson said Monday. The rule “also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects.”

The official said that the Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the OSHA rule on Monday, and the rule will be published in the Federal Register “in the coming days.”

The spokesperson declined to give further details, saying that the administration “will provide further updates when we have more information. ”

Separately, the administration will give federal contractors broad authority on how to treat employees who refuse to be vaccinated, according to guidelines that the White House issued Monday.

Under an executive order that President Joe Biden issued in September, contractors have until Dec. 8 to ensure that employees are fully vaccinated. The order has met resistance from some workers at large employers with federal contracts, including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. The CEO of Southwest said his airline would not fire anybody for refusing to get the shots.

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