DENVER — In September, the federal government rolled out vaccine requirement guidelines for companies with 100 or more employees. Now, there's a new deadline for when it needs to happen.
According to the latest rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers need to make sure workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2021 or workers will have to test negative for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
Employers will also be required to give paid time off when workers get vaccinated and provide sick leave if someone experiences side effects.
"We’re currently at about 95% vaccination rate as a company, so, honestly, up until this point, we feel really good with the methods we’ve taken," said Devin Rombough, director of operations for Illegal Pete's.
Rombough said the fast casual restaurants have tried to take a proactive approach with employees while focusing on education. The company has more than 400 employees. He says that amounts to about one or two people per store who have not been vaccinated yet.
"I think it really comes down to having one-on-one conversations with those folks and having really, just hearing them out and having honest conversations," Rombough said.
Employment attorneys expect to see pushback as the January deadline approaches.
"I think we’ll certainly see some lawsuits, in particular, from a number of states, and I think we expect lawsuits from private individuals, too, especially those claiming religious exemptions or disabilities," said Ben DeGolia, an employment and civil rights lawyer.
A spokesperson for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce said they are committed to helping employers comply because they don't want to see any interruptions to the economic recovery.
“We believe employers with their employees are in the best position to make these kind of decisions. Our members are dedicated to providing for safe workplaces for their employees and customers. Evidence shows vaccines are effective in preventing severe infection and hospitalization. In Colorado, where statewide hospital capacity is at a high, decisions to avoid vaccination should be made very carefully by individuals and in consultation with their medical providers.