The Biden administration’s new rule announced Thursday mandating vaccines for private employers could provoke “fallout,” but it succeeds in creating a simple regulatory framework, according to business groups.
The rule determines that employers with more than 100 employees must require them to be vaccinated or undergo a weekly test for the virus, a plan that will impact about 80 million people. Workers at health facilities that receive federal funding through Medicare or Medicaid, of which there are roughly 17 million, will also have to be fully vaccinated.
Also, the administration will require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with limited medical and religious exemptions and no option to test out.
Stuart Waldman, president at the Valley Industry & Commerce Association in Van Nuys, said a few weeks ago, the VICA board discussed vaccine mandates when the city of Los Angeles began to consider the policy for indoor businesses and public spaces.
“The conversation really pointed to wanting consistency, wanting the businesses to have a consistent plan that was uniform, and I think that’s what this does,” Waldman said. “it also takes the onus away from the business. Because in many cases, you have businesses that were instituting policies requiring vaccination, and they were immediately getting sued, which is extremely costly. But when it’s the government making that decision, to be vaccinated or required testing, it frees up the business and then also keeps the business from getting sued for that policy.”
However, Waldman added that he expects compliance issues.
“I do anticipate that the fallout is going to be coming, as people start to realize what the requirements are, especially the ones where there’s a complete vaccination requirement,” he explained.
In a statement, Joshua Bolten, chief executive of Business Roundtable, a nonprofit lobbyist organization made exclusively of chief executives, said the organization “welcomes the Biden administration’s continued vigilance in the fight against COVID” and it “looks forward to continue working with the administration and leaders across all levels of government to defeat the pandemic.”
Some pro-labor groups expressed concerns about the policy’s implementation.
“Since the vaccines first became widely available, we have strongly encouraged all our members to take one of the several safe, effective vaccines against COVID-19,” National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, Everett Kelley, said in a statement. “Likewise, since President Biden made his first major announcement about changing COVID-19 protocols for the federal workforce in response to the surging Delta variant, we have said that changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate.
“Put simply, workers deserve a voice in their working conditions,” Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement. “We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.”