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How will vaccine mandate will impact tight labor market?



FILE - Protesters outside Gundersen Health System in La Crosse on Nov. 2, 2021.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Some Minnesota employers are concerned about how a new federal vaccine requirement for workers will affect an already tight labor market.

New regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly and wear masks on the job. The requirement begins Jan. 4. Failure to comply could result in penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.

There are nearly 4,800 employers in Minnesota with 100 or more workers, according to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Star Tribune reported.

“I think there’s a number of companies that have concerns (and) believe that the emergency temporary standards will create additional economic uncertainty for their companies specifically, as well as the economy as a whole,” said Vicki Stute, a vice president with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

While OSHA’s standards allow medium and large employers to provide workers with a test-out option to avoid vaccination, that’s not the case for facilities accepting payment from the government’s Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs, said Patti Cullen, the president and chief executive of Care Providers of Minnesota.

“Let’s be clear — this is a potential powder keg with a short fuse,” Cullen said. “We may face a scenario where we don’t have enough workers to serve the seniors in our settings. And despite our pleas for help, there are no concrete solutions — either at the state or federal levels — to help us solve our unprecedented workforce crisis.”

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