Administration urged to ‘pump the brakes’ on vaccine mandate

The Biden administration’s looming vaccine-or-test mandate has unsettled several business groups, which are calling for the rule to be postponed until after the holidays.

These business groups, representing sectors ranging from retail to trucking, scheduled meetings with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week to discuss their concerns about the federal requirements.

Groups worry that the mandate will lead to bulk resignations and add to industries’ struggles. Businesses are already experiencing a shortage of workers in the lead-up to the holiday season.

Background: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was tasked with drafting the rule announced by President Biden last month that requires employers with at least 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing.

One group: The National Retail Federation has “serious questions” about the forthcoming rule, particularly its “one size fits all” approach, Edwin Egee, vice president of government relations and workforce development, said.

“We’re really concerned how that’s going to impact us,” Egee said. “There’re already over a million vacant positions in the retail industry, and this is not going to help that, especially as we’re going to try to hire up more as we move into the holiday season.”

Egee said he is urging the White House to “pump the brakes a little” with an at least 90-day implementation period. The longer timeline would allow officials to see how COVID-19 trends go and to address “the complexities” of the requirements, including mapping out the logistics of weekly testing for unvaccinated employees, he said.