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Employers who break Biden vaccine rules could face heavy fines

Written by: Leonard Parker | Houston Business News | 05th November

The Biden administration plans hefty fines for companies that fail to comply with its COVID vaccine and testing mandates after they come into force on January 4. Each employee who breaks the rule will cost their bosses $13,653 per violation, with heavier fines of up to $136,532 for "willful violations," according to a White House media briefing on the rules.

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The mandate applies to 84.2 million workers at 1.9 million private sector companies, said the OSHA. Workers at nursing home and other healthcare workers at organisations that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs must also get vaccinated by that date. For these workers, there is no testing option. Jim Frederick, deputy assistant secretary of labor at OSHA, told CBS News that "We know that the vast majority of workplaces will be in compliance."

"In those cases where OSHA does have to come and work with a workplace with non-compliance, we assess the situation and the gravity or severity of a citation issue."

In a statement Thursday, President Joe Biden defended requiring vaccination, a step he had earlier said he would rather not carry out.

"Vaccination is the single best pathway out of this pandemic. And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements -- and they are working," Biden said in a statement.

The move comes as the coronavirus continues to claim thousands of lives daily in the US — with most of the victims unvaccinated. 

The mandate is likely to face legal challenges. The governors of Florida, Texas, Indiana, and Iowa have decried the mandate as unconstitutional and a threat to individual freedom.

The Biden administration says the government has broad authority to set and enforce health and safety standards in workplaces. 

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