Large companies have until Jan. 4 to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, senior White House officials announced Thursday morning.
The administration revealed the deadline almost two months after President Joe Biden indicated that the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration would soon require vaccinations at companies with 100 or more employees.
"The administration is calling on all employers to ensure that as many of their workers are vaccinated as quickly as possible," senior White House officials said in a statement Thursday.
Unvaccinated workers must wear masks on site and get tested at least weekly starting Jan. 4, the administration said.
OSHA won't require employers to provide or pay for tests, but it does require them to pay workers for the time it takes to get vaccinated and for sick leave if they suffer from side effects afterward. Companies that violate the new OSHA rules could face penalties of $13,653 per violation. So-called "willful penalties" can result in $136,532 fines.
The 21 states that run their own OSHA programs — including California — will have 30 days to implement OSHA's new rule once the federal register is published this week. They can also adopt a rule that goes further than OSHA's rule.
The Jan. 4 deadline applies to large employers, federal contractors and healthcare workers at facilities covered by Medicare or Medicaid. That gives federal contractors a few more weeks to comply with the new rules than they would have had under the Dec. 8 deadline that officials had previously indicated.
What tech workers think
Compared to other industries, tech hasn't had to fight too hard to get workers vaccinated, but there's still some resistance in the industry to enforcement, according to a survey of 1,309 U.S. adults that Qualtrics conducted last month.
Almost three out of four tech and IT workers surveyed said they support federal vaccine mandates, but only 61% said they want their employer to enforce them.
Intel is one company that has not implemented a vaccine mandate, in part because the chipmaker fears it would lose employees.
Just over half of workers in retail, government and travel, hospitality and food said they support the mandates.