• Tyler Cunning

New Emergency Vaccine Rules for Temp Workers

Updated: Nov 8

En Español

Vaccination or testing will be required for everyone who works for an employer with 100 or more employees, per new rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). Rules take effect beginning December 4, 2021.

The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) will help protect workers through the most effective and efficient control available – vaccination – and further protects workers who remain unvaccinated through required regular testing, use of face coverings, and removal of all infected employees from the workplace.

Unfortunately, the requirements are different for temp workers, and offer them less overall protection.


#1 - Get Vaccinated. Being vaccinated means you will avoid confusing requirements, avoid potentially paying yourself for the cost of testing, and you will be better protected as workplaces with temp workers may have higher exposure risks to COVID-19.

#2 - Know the Rules, and Know Your Rights! Vaccinated or not, temp workers may be exposed to greater risks because of loopholes in OSHA’s new requirements that do not equally protect some workplaces that use temp workers.

Find out more below and here:

  • Summary of the Emergency Temporary Standard

  • Full OSHA Regulation

  • OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

What are the new rules?

  • Employers with at least 100 employees will be required to have a mandatory vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing and wear a face covering at work.

  • Employers do NOT need to provide you with face coverings - you may have to pay for them on your own.

  • Testing does NOT need to be free. It may be covered by health insurance, if you have a policy, but you can be forced to pay for the required weekly testing yourself if you’re not vaccinated.

  • If you test positive, paid sick leave is NOT required.

  • For your worksite employer, the 100 employee threshold does NOT count temp workers. So if they have 50 direct-hire employees, but 200 temp workers, they are NOT required to follow these “vaccine or testing” rules.

  • By using large numbers of temp workers, your workplace may be avoiding these rules meant for your protection.

  • For temp agencies, the 100 employee threshold does apply. It is extremely likely that your temp agency has at least 100 employees, and therefore is subject to these new rules.

  • Your temp agency will likely be required to verify your vaccination status and follow these new rules.

  • Employers must provide paid time for workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure workers have paid sick leave to recover from any side effects that prevent them from working.

  • Contact your local workers’ center or Temp Worker Justice if this is not being provided to you.

  • Employers have until 12/4/2021 to comply with most of these regulations, including mandatory face coverings for unvaccinated workers, and have until 1/3/2022 to comply with weekly testing requirements.

  • Temporary staffing agencies and worksite employers that don’t comply may face significant OSHA fines!

The Problem for Temp Workers:

The ETS will not cover temporary workers unless their staffing agencies meet the 100 employee requirement, and will not cover many workplaces where large numbers of temporary workers are used. Many temporary workers will be unprotected and vulnerable!

The new guidelines pass costs to workers - temp workers are paid significantly less than other workers, are less likely to have health insurance, and many cannot afford fees and unpaid sick leave.

Furthermore, many temporary workers have little or no knowledge in regards to the total number of workers that their staffing agency employs, creating confusion. Without this knowledge, staffing agencies can and will avoid protecting their workers, leading to more workers being sick, left without any paid sick leave, and with no way to provide for themselves and their families!

What You Can Do:

Submit a comment to OSHA by Jan 3, 2022 to share your concerns, offer recommendations, and to have your voice heard!

Contact Temp Worker Justice with any questions or concerns.

En Español:

Nuevas Reglas de Vacunación de Emergencia para Trabajadores Temporales
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