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Who Should Pay for Mandated Covid-19 Testing for Employees?
As part of the Biden administration’s push for more vaccination coverage, on November 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a rule for mandatory vaccinations for employees of companies with more than 100 workers. According to this rule, businesses need to have their employees vaccinated to avoid fines.
OSHA recommended regular testing as an emergency temporary standard or ETS for employees who do not wish to be vaccinated. However, the organization has also stated that employers are not required to pay for the regular Covid-19 testing of their employees.
Given that the OSHA rule covers approximately 84 million Americans, the question on people’s minds is: who will pay for these tests? This article will discuss the possibilities.
How much are Covid-19 tests?
Firstly, let us discuss the cost of these tests to better understand the extent and scale of the OSHA rule. Testing expenses can vary depending on the location and the type of test given. A single rapid test can cost anywhere between $15 and $25. While more accurate, a PCR test is significantly more expensive, with a median price of $127. Since testing may be a regular occurrence for some, these costs can quickly add up.
Are employers going to pay for Covid-19 tests?
Before answering this question, it is important to first look at the staggering rate of resignations the country has faced for the last several months. Dubbed as the “Great Resignation,” this phenomenon has resulted in numerous job vacancies. According to Harvard Business Review, there were almost 11 million open jobs in July of this year—a record-breaker. The rate of resignation continues to remain high.
Because of the shortage of employees, employers may be compelled to foot the testing bill just to keep their doors open, despite not being required by OSHA. This is especially true for companies in the tourism, retail, hospitality, and restaurant industries.
Still, some employers may choose to have employees go on unpaid leave or let go of them altogether. This can be the more cost-effective alternative for employers at struggling businesses.
Other important considerations
- Health Insurance – Health insurance usually only covers Covid-19 testing if it is medically necessary. Employers or employees will most likely pay for these tests out of pocket.
- Unionized Workers – Those under collective bargaining agreements may have regulations regarding Covid-19 tests. Otherwise, the tests can be a matter of further discussion between unions and employers.
- Worker Productivity – Testing for hourly workers will most likely occur during work hours. On the other hand, salaried employees may be required to undergo testing outside work hours. Companies that can afford it may work with healthcare providers to have testing done on-site.
- Home Testing – According to OSHA rules, employers need to observe the tests and the subsequent results of their employees. Employees are not allowed to administer the tests or read the results themselves.
- Remote Workers – Regular testing is not mandatory for employees who work remotely full time. Those who work exclusively outdoors will not be required as well. However, if employees need to visit the office periodically, they will need the test.
Is all this legal?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are allowed to require employees to undergo Covid-19 testing if the procedure complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For more information about this developing topic, do not hesitate to contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER or 213-514-5681. Our attorneys will be glad to answer your questions.