US covid vaccine rules “cause confusion” for construction

By Andy Brown and Carrie Bennett10 November 2021

Construction officials in the US are worried that new federal mandates would cause more confusion within the industry by creating different standards for companies based on their size and the work they perform.

President Biden’s plan is for private businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or face weekly tests and mask-wearing.

While a federal US appeals court has upheld an appeal against this, meaning that the mandate is currently on pause, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCCA) has called on Biden to scrap the proposal.

“The Biden administration’s new vaccine mandates will make the challenge of vaccinating more construction professionals harder, based on our initial analysis of the measure,” said chief executive officer of the AGCCA, Stephen E. Sandherr.

“The rule creates more confusion than clarity. For example, the measure claims to require workers to incur the costs of testing, yet it also says many employers will likely be required to pay those workers for the time spent getting tested. The rule also claims to exempt people who work outside – something many in construction do – but then defines outside in a way that excludes just about every occupation traditionally performed outdoors.

“By opting to have one standard apply to federal contractors, a different standard apply to firms that employ 100 or more people, and no standard for firms with 99 or fewer workers, the administration is doing more to encourage vaccine-reluctant workers to relocate to smaller firms than to get vaccinated.”

Some States in Australia also require so called vaccine passports for construction workers, which has led to some protests.

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