Business groups are asking the Biden administration to delay its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private companies until after the holidays, CNBC reported Monday.
White House officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last week met with labor unions, industry lobbyists, and private individuals as part of a final review of the mandate that will require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure they’re vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus, the news outlet reported.
More meetings were set for Monday and Tuesday with other groups.
According to CNBC, the new rule would cover roughly two-thirds of the private-sector workforce.
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration delivered its final rule to OMB Oct. 12, and the mandate is expected to take effect soon after the agency completes its review.
"It has been a hectic holiday season already, as you know, with supply chain struggles," Evan Armstrong, a lobbyist at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told CNBC. "This is a difficult policy to implement. It would be even more difficult during the holiday season."
The National Retail Federation and the retail leaders group asked White House officials in meetings last week to give businesses 90 days to comply with the mandate — delaying the effective date to late January at the earliest, lobbyists said.
Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA during the Obama administration, told CNBC the administration will probably give businesses about 10 weeks as they did for federal contractors until employees have to be fully vaccinated. The compliance date could come sooner for weekly testing, he said.
But Robyn Boerstling, a top lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, called the federal requirements "redundant and costly" for companies that already support vaccination among their staff.
The manufacturers group is asking the administration to exempt business if they have already implemented company-wide mandates or worked up to a certain level of vaccination among employees.
"A realistic implementation period can allow for workforce planning that is necessary given the acute skilled worker shortage and ongoing supply chain challenges by supporting the need to keep manufacturing open and operational," Boerstling wrote in the letter to the administration last Monday.
Industry concerns about the impact of Biden’s vaccine mandate on employment come after a record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August, the highest turnover in 20 years.
"We’re already having supply chain issues; we’re already having workforce shortage issues," Ed Egee, a top lobbyist at the National Retail Federation, told CNBC. "This mandate cannot be implemented in 2021 without having serious repercussions on the American economy."
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