As many of you know, effective November 16, 2020, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OR OSHA”) adopted a comprehensive set of workplace safety rules designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. (More information about the rules is available here, here and here). These temporary rules remain in effect until May 4, 2021. Late last week, OR OSHA published its final draft of proposed permanent COVID-19 safety rules, which, as of May 4, 2021, will replace the temporary rules.
The proposed final rules are very similar to the temporary rules. Key provisions of the proposed final rules are:
COVID-19 Vaccines. This is the most significant difference between the temporary rules and the permanent rules, as the vaccine was not available at the time OR OSHA published the temporary rules. Under the draft permanent rules:
- The employer must make its employees and adequate space available whenever a local public health agency or the Oregon Health Authority determines that it is necessary to administer the vaccine in the workplace.
- If the employer mandates the vaccine, it must cover costs associated with the vaccine and pay employees for time associated with receiving it. Otherwise, the cost belongs to the employees and the employees need not be paid for the time.
- Unless a local public health agency or the Oregon Health Authority directs otherwise, employers are not required to mandate the vaccine. The proposed rules state that if the employees decline the vaccine, the employer must document the declination. It is unclear whether this obligation applies when the vaccine is mandated by the employer only, and not by a local public health agency or the Oregon Health Authority.