The Biden administration has included a vaccine enforcement mechanism in the $3.5 trillion, 2,465-page ‘Build Back Better Bill’ which will enable the government to enforce fines on employers whose employees do not get the vaccine.
The mechanism, buried on page 168 of the Democrats’ ‘reconciliation’ spending bill, will allow a tenfold increase in fines for businesses with 100 or more employees that ‘wilfully and repeatedly,’ violate a section of labor law that deals with workplace hazards, of which Covid-19 is now a part.
The increased fines on employers could go as high as $70,000 for serious infractions, and $700,000 for willful or repeated violations – a sum which can be applied to each instance of a violation rather than a total limit.
If enacted into law, the fines could rapidly bankrupt companies whose employees are not vaccinated, in effect forcing businesses to comply with Biden’s inoculation drive.
It comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency Covid-19 rule in the Federal Register this summer, which added Covid-19 to a list of possible workplace hazards for healthcare employment.
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet announced when the House will vote on the reconciliation bill that includes the new vaccine enforcement mechanism.
On Thursday 9 September, Biden announced that companies with 100 or more employees must ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week, or face fines of thousands of dollars.
He also demanded that all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement – roughly 17 million people – must get vaccinated, and signed an executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated.
Now, the rise in fines included in the new bill formulates the latest part of the President’s drive to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated.
Any business that violates the rule can already face substantial fines of up to $14,000 per incident, but the legislation that has been included in the new $3.5 trillion bills could raise the fines for non-compliance 10 times higher, with a limit of up to $700,000 for each ‘wilful’ or ‘repeated’ violation according to Forbes.
A senior administration official described it as an ‘aggressive, comprehensive plan to fight COVID as part of their mission to ‘vaccinate the unvaccinated.’
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The official estimated nearly 80 million Americans are eligible to receive a shot but have not.
Additionally, the roughly 300,000 educators in head-start programs will be required to be vaccinated.
‘It’s simple – if you want to work for the federal government, you must be vaccinated. If you want to do business with the government, you must vaccinate your workforce,’ the senior administration official said.