The pandemic has attacked businesses from several fronts at once. From the health implications to labor relations to inflation to the straining of the supply chain, companies have been forced to deal with multiple challenges simultaneously. On top of that, add the changing regulatory climate — new policies followed by reversals and updates, making it difficult to create stable operating procedures.
The latest in these high-profile flip-flops came in January when the U.S. Supreme Court moved to block government-mandated COVID vaccine and testing rules for employers. The ruling reversed a policy put in place by the Biden administration, but many companies have misunderstood the scope of the decision.
Previously, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, had created guidelines requiring businesses with at least 100 workers to follow certain COVID protocols. This included mandatory vaccination for employees or a procedure of weekly testing for the virus.
In a 6-3 vote, the nine Supreme Court justices found that the rules had gone beyond OSHA’s authority. Still, even after this decision, the situation surrounding COVID policy remained complex.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of what the Supreme Court’s decision to block OSHA’s control of vaccine and testing means for Massachusetts or Rhode Island businesses and the steps you should take to stay ahead of regulatory uncertainty.
How to Regulate Your Business Given OSHA Vaccine Decisions
Know Your Local Regulations
The Supreme Court ruling applies to the federal rules set up under OSHA. However, this represents just one of a tangled group of government regulations. Potential rules exist at the state and local levels as well.
You operate under many layers of oversight, including state and local authorities. Before you set your COVID policy, you need to research the other requirements that might apply in your area.
Industry Rules Still Apply
The Supreme Court’s opinion was aimed at the OSHA regulations. However, it’s important to realize that the particular ruling was relatively narrow in scope. Depending on your situation, other rules, even from the federal government, might apply.
For instance, January also saw the Supreme Court issue another ruling on COVID rules. This time around, the justices decided in favor of mandates set up through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the organization that oversees policies for the federal government’s healthcare programs.
Under those rules, which the court left in place, healthcare workers operating Medicare and Medicaid facilities must get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, January’s Supreme Court decisions did not deal with an executive order applying to federal contractors. The court did not review that case, which required vaccinations or testing for companies that conduct business with the federal government.
Generally speaking, then, your company might still fall under federal guidelines, depending on your business. Don’t assume that the OSHA ruling completely eliminates COVID requirements. Rather, research the rules that apply to your industry and make sure you reach compliance.
Setting COVID Polices
Ultimately, it’s up to you to set your own policies related to COVID. Of course, you should comply with any requirements. But you also have to make the best decisions for your business and your workers.
The specifics of your COVID procedures will depend on your jurisdiction, your industry, and your specific situation. That said, there are some broad considerations to keep in mind as you craft your policy. Here are some tips to help you develop the optimal COVID plan for your company:
- Stay Informed
- Listen to Your Workers
- Clearly Communicate Your Policies
- Monitor Compliance
- Offer Remote Options (Where Possible)
At ABLE, We Can Help You Navigate All Changing Tides
Navigating the shifting COVID regulations can be difficult for businesses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It helps to have a great team in place to help you through the tough times. A top recruiter, like ABLE Associates, can bring you the talent you need to face any challenge. At ABLE we are currently requiring vaccination for all candidates and can help assist you in finding your perfect match!
Contact ABLE today to learn more.