President Joe Biden announced new vaccine mandates Thursday, including one ordering businesses with more than 100 employees to require either vaccinations for employees or weekly COVID-19 testing.
IU experts said Biden’s mandates are similar to other workplace safety measures. They said the vaccine requirements are necessary, although the American public’s response to them may be mixed.
Jody Madeira, Maurer School of Law professor, said private employers who fail to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule will face a $14,000 fine.
“It does get expensive quickly,” Madeira said. “I think that you will see some businesses crumbling but it needs to be a pretty steep penalty if people are going to comply.”
Madeira said the mandate doesn’t affect too many businesses. According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, 98% of businesses have fewer than 100 employees.
“Unless you’re one of those less than 2% of businesses or unless you’re a federal employee or a health care worker, you actually are not going to feel any effects of this at all,” she said.
Peter Federman, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs assistant professor, said workplaces across the country have put safety measures in place for years.
“Fundamentally, this is not anything new,” Federman said. “It’s simply an adjustment to workplace safety that we need to make.”
Federman said the implementation of this mandate will be similar to other workplace safety measures. He said the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA will penalize companies that don’t comply while individuals who fail to comply could lose their jobs.
With the coronavirus becoming more infectious and the number of positive cases increasing, Federman said the time has come to enforce a vaccine mandate.
“If you have people continuing to get sick and the numbers of people who are infected and hospitalized continuing to climb, you have to do something,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re looking at a major economic collapse.”
Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, IU labor and employment law professor, said OSHA has enforced immunizations in the past when there was a very clear workplace health hazard such as asbestos. He said the pandemic constitutes an emergency under the same standards.
“There is a grave danger to some employees,” Dau-Schmidt said. “The cure is actually fairly cheap. The vaccine is readily available. It’s free.”