Companies with more than 100 employees will be mandated to require COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees or do weekly testing by Jan. 4 under terms of a new federal rule issued by the Labor Department today.

The new rule will apply to an estimated 84 million workers across the country, or two-thirds of the nation’s workforce. The rule requires weekly testing and mandatory face masks for workers who choose not to get vaccinated. It also requires employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated. Companies are allowed to require unvaccinated employees to pay for weekly testing.
Democratic lawmakers applauded the Biden administration for enacting an emergency workplace safety standard that will keep businesses and the economy open.

“More than 18 months since the start of the pandemic, workers across the country are still suffering preventable illnesses and deaths from COVID-19,” said Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor. “The Biden Administration is demonstrating the leadership that this moment requires. Workplace vaccination policies will save lives, protect our economic recovery and help us finally get things back to normal.”

Numerous Republican-led states are preparing to challenge the legality of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private companies. Many Republican lawmakers have characterized the vaccine mandate as unnecessary government intrusion.

“Biden wants the federal government to control every aspect of American workers’ and business owners’ lives,” said Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC). “Biden’s coercive mandate will create substantial uncertainty, outrageous costs and unforeseen liabilities. We need to empower businesses and workers to make the decisions that are best for them, not Washington.”