WASHINGTON -- More than six weeks after promising a new vaccination-or-testing rule covering the millions of Americans at companies with 100 or more workers, President Joe Biden's most aggressive move yet to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is almost ready to see the light of day.
A White House office in an obscure location is expected to approve the rule's fine print, detailing when and how companies must require employees to get vaccinated.
The new year may bring the full enforcement deadline. This could mean that penalties up to $14,000 per violation will not be imposed. Biden and his staff have been encouraging businesses for weeks to pretend that the rule is already in place and start imposing vaccinations.
The Federal Register will publish the regulation. It was drafted by Occupational Safety and Health Administration in an emergency to protect worker safety. It will apply to approximately 80 million U.S. workers. It is a powerful tool that the White House views as a way to narrow down the 65 million Americans who are refusing to be given a chance.
Officials at the White House declined to comment on when the rule would be published or give details about when businesses must comply.
Federal officials hosted over two dozen listening sessions for industry groups, businesses, and advocacy organizations in the last week. While some have supported the rule while others are strongly opposed, all are keen to find out more about the regulations.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with other organizations representing large employers, is concerned that the proposal's threshold - which applies to companies with more than 100 employees - could lead to workers moving to smaller jobs where they won’t be required to get vaccinated.
Marc Freedman (Vice President for Employment Policy at the Chamber of Commerce), stated that "we really stressed the concern regarding employers losing employees, as well as what that would mean in context of current supply chain challenges and the coming holiday season." "You might see some very serious disruptions."
Freedman was part of the chamber's conference call with administration officials. He said that the 100-worker threshold would also hinder job creation, giving employers with 90 or 95 employees an excuse not to grow.