Indiana business leaders urge companies to prepare for OSHA vaccine mandate

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – A federal appeals court has reinstated the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for companies with 100 or more employees.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA will begin issuing penalties January 10.

The newly-reinstated mandate impacts thousands of Hoosiers at businesses across the state.

“Our advice to employers is you need to resume, if you discontinued, the process of getting ready for that,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Under the mandate, all workers at companies with 100 or more employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly. Those who are not vaccinated must also wear a mask at work.

OSHA will not issue penalties for violations of the testing component until February 9, as long as the business is making an effort to comply, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Still, fines could be issued for companies that do not enforce the mandate as soon as January 10.

“That’s not very far away, particularly when you consider a lot of folks will be taking time off over the holidays … plus they’ve got to set up their record-keeping systems for all this as well,” Brinegar said.

In a statement, Attorney General Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) said he has appealed the recent ruling. It’s expected the U.S. Supreme Court will make the final decision.

“We will not be deterred by the Sixth Circuit’s decision,” Rokita said. “I am committed to defending Hoosiers’ liberty.”

Rokita was not available for an interview Monday.

”We’re still reviewing it – obviously you saw the AG has already appealed it, which we agree with,” Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Indiana) told reporters.

Legal experts say a temporary injunction could be issued within the next few days, once again putting the mandate on hold. But it’s not yet clear if that’s going to happen.

“I would wait at least a few days and see whether that happens quickly,” said Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, professor of labor and employment law at Indiana University.

“If you don’t see the temporary injunction reinstated in the next few days, I would plan on complying with that,” Dau-Schmidt added.

If the legality of the mandate is decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s not entirely clearly how long it could take to get a final decision. Dau-Schmidt said he does not expect a final ruling before January 10.

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