What We Know About OSHA’s Vaccine Requirement…So Far

Here's what we know so far about OSHA's impending vaccine mandate—plus hiring help and grants for Denver residents.

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All eyes are on OSHA./ Copyright: designer491

Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) has gathered what info exists about the federal government’s workplace vaccine requirement (which is unsatisfyingly little) for restaurants. The CRA has also provided info on organizing a free vaccine clinic at your workplace, as well as tips on legally enforcing vaccine mandates for guests.

If you’re still short-staffed, consider a workforce development showcase in Denver on September 28 and 29 for tips on alternative hiring options and (more importantly!) retaining the staff you have. And finally, any Denver resident working at a hotel or restaurant (even if it’s not located in the city proper) may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $1,000; applications can be submitted in English or Spanish.

The following information comes from the CRA’s September 14 and 17 newsletters. Sign up to receive the full versions here

Updates on Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan’s Vaccine Requirement

Last week, President Biden announced a new COVID-19 Action Plan to help curb the recent spike in COVID-19 infections. This plan directs the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that will require all private sector employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. The ETS will also require covered employers to provide employees a reasonable amount of paid time off (or use existing paid time off) to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects associated with the vaccine. 

This rule is NOT yet in effect, and you do not have to make any changes to operations at this time unless you want to get ahead of the ETS rule.

Here is what we have learned from DOL/OSHA so far about how this will affect restaurants:

  • Timing: The ETS will be issued “expeditiously” in the coming weeks. We will update you as the timing is clarified.
  • Public input: No opportunity for public input or listening sessions prior to ETS issuance.
  • Process: When the ETS is published in the federal register, it will become effective immediately in states, including Colorado, where OSHA has direct jurisdiction. (NOTE: There are 22 states with State OSHA plans and they will have 30 days to implement the federal ETS or something equal to it.) After publication, stakeholders will have an opportunity to comment (likely 60 days as this was the case with the existing ETS on the healthcare industry) and shape the final rule/permanent standard that will replace the ETS. OSHA intends to issue the final rule six months after the issuance of the ETS.
  • Applicability: The 100+ employee threshold is to be counted per company, not per worksite.
  • Remote employees: If your company employs any remote workers, the ETS will not apply to them as they are physically isolated from co-workers. The rule only applies to workers who work onsite.
  • Accommodations: Appropriate accommodations will be provided for those workers that are unable to get vaccinated due to underlying health issues and/or religious reasons.
  • Procedures for handling employees who refuse to get vaccinated or tested, i.e., ability to fire the employee: Officials said this was outside the scope of the ETS and it would not address employer disciplinary activities. Officials were silent on liability protections. That being said, we will be coordinating with the attorneys in our legal resource center to ensure you have the best guidance to implement this new rule once it is in effect. 

Click here to learn more.

We know that there are still many open questions as to how restaurants will implement this rule, who will pay for testing, and other relevant issues. We will be working closely with our partners at the National Restaurant Association to provide you with more information prior to the rule taking effect. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email info@corestaurant.org.

ED: EatDenver also linked to this Q&A from Nation’s Restaurant News addressing the topic.

Colorado Workplace Vaccination Program

In preparation for the above-mentioned vaccination requirements for businesses that employ more than 100 people, we want to remind you of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Workplace Vaccination Program. Through this workplace vaccination program, employers of any size can request a free, on-site vaccination event. All staffing, logistics, and vaccine supplies will be coordinated and provided by CDPHE. The enrolling employer will just need to advertise the free, on-site vaccination opportunity to their employees or members. 

Click here to enroll in the program.

“Tips on Enforcing Vaccine Mandates With Guests to Stay Out of Hot Water” From Fisher Phillips

“On the heels of the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, several major U.S. cities are requiring vaccines for entry to restaurants, shops, and entertainment facilities – and some businesses are instituting their own vaccine requirements for guests. Those restaurants, hotels, and other businesses being forced to comply with another law have questions about how to best handle this potentially touchy situation, but even those businesses introducing their own guest vaccine mandate on their own need guidance in this area. This article provides businesses tips on how to comply with or roll out vaccinated-only mandates and avoid some legal pitfalls in doing so.”

Click here to read more.

COVID-19 Assistance Grants for Denver Hospitality Employees, Including Those That Are Currently Employed!

The City of Denver has partnered with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation (CRF) to expand the emergency assistance grant program created to help restaurant and hotel employees who have experienced undue hardship during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hotel and restaurant operators, this is a fantastic opportunity to support those employees who were (or still are) laid off, furloughed, or had their working hours reduced during the pandemic — even if those employees have already returned to work and are currently fully employed.

Informing your staff that these assistance grants are available — up to $500 for any restaurant and hotel employee that was (or currently is) unemployed or underemployed at some point since January 2020, and $1,000 for those that were diagnosed with COVID-19 at some point since January 2020 — and that you will provide them with the necessary paperwork to receive a grant, is a meaningful demonstration of support that’s well deserved after 18 months of pandemic hardship.

Note: Assistance shall be provided to eligible applicants regardless of the immigration status of the applicant. No identifying personal information will be given to the City of Denver for reporting or any other purpose.

Operators, we encourage you to provide your employees with this important information to show your gratitude and assist with their financial recovery after the challenging year this industry has endured. You will need to provide qualified team members with documentation of lost or reduced employment, which may include a letter from a manager or owner on company letterhead or unemployment paperwork.  

Click here to learn about the eligibility requirements and types of expenses covered by this grant.

Apply here. Find the Spanish application here.

South Metro Denver Chamber Workforce Development Showcase

Join the South Metro Denver Chamber and partners to learn about innovation, resources, and solutions to build our workforce of the future. Educators, college and university administrators, workforce and business executives, and more will discuss critical topics impacting employment:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion in our environments
  • Creating and nurturing today’s workforce
  • Innovation in training to build talent pipelines
  • Exploring alternative hiring practices 
  • Employment best practices and Denver South economy

This is a two-day event that takes place at Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight in Englewood on Tuesday, September 28 and Wednesday, September 29. Click here to learn more.

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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