Some companies are concerned about losing workers when scarcity is already in place, and while firms with mandates have said those concerns have largely failed to materialise, a national requirement could have further allayed those concerns.
The National Retail Federation, one of several trade groups suing the administration over the mandate, called the Supreme Court’s action a “major employer victory.” The organization said it “urged the Biden administration to reject this illegal mandate and instead work with employers, workers and public health experts on practical ways to increase vaccination coverage and reduce the spread of the virus by 2022.” ”
Companies have been preparing for the mandate for months, and many are still able to move forward with their policies, said Douglas Brayley, an employment attorney at Ropes & Gray. He noted that the Supreme Court has said nothing against employers’ vaccination mandates.
Some local and state laws still require employers to mandate vaccines or weekly tests. New York City, for example, has a stricter rule than the federal government’s, requiring all workers on site to be vaccinated. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld state vaccine mandates and has not limited employers’ ability to create their own requirements.
But other states have laws blocking mask and vaccine mandates, which would have prevented the federal rule. With the Biden administration’s rule blocked, many employers in those states won’t be able to demand vaccines, said David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University and a former OSHA administrator.
The coronavirus pandemic: important things to know
“This decision will provide an excuse for employers who care less about their employees to get back to business as usual,” said Dr. michaels. He added that the decision could widen the gap between white-collar workers who can stay at home and employees who have to do business in person as the number of Covid cases rises.
The Supreme Court decision, which described OSHA’s rule as “a blunt instrument,” left open the possibility that the agency could issue a revised rule that targets certain types of workplaces or falls more clearly within its purview, such as requiring of improved ventilation and personal protective equipment, said Dr. michaels. It may also follow a more traditional rule-making process rather than the emergency it used, although that could take years.