DORAL, FL – Unvaccinated employees in Florida will now be protected from getting fired should they refuse to vaccinate against COVID-19, with certain exemptions that private businesses must provide.
“We’re respecting people’s individual freedom in this state,” DeSantis stated while at a Honda car dealership in Brandon, Florida. “This is a personal choice, that’s the science based approach, to say that this should be a personal choice,” DeSantis said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Thursday to make this feasible for everyone who can’t or won’t get vaccinated but is afraid of losing their jobs.
Under the Florida laws, businesses are required to exempt employees from a mandatory vaccination policy if they have Covid immunity from prior infection, are tested periodically for the virus or opt to use personal protective equipment provided by the company.
“We recognize people who have natural immunity,” DeSantis said. “Whatever a private employer wants to do, you’re automatically exempt because of natural immunity.”
Companies that fire unvaccinated employees can be fined in the following way: the ones with less than 100 employees, will be charged with $10,000 per violation, while the ones with more than 100 employees, would have to pay $50,000. Businesses can avoid the fines if they reinstate the employee with backpay.
The new legislature in Florida challenges President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses. From the White House, businesses have been encourage to educate employees who do not vaccinate or get tested.
In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA, which polices workplace safety for the Labor Department, issued emergency workplace safety rules this month that require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are vaccinated or submit to regular Covid testing by Jan. 4.
However, the Biden policy does not demand businesses to fire employees who do not follow the rules. Rather, the policy leaves discipline up to the discretion of the companies. Nevetheless, sample implementation plans posted on OSHA’s website list unpaid leave and termination as examples of potential consequences that workers could face.
Now Florida must submit its own state-based workplace safety plan to OSHA for clearance. Its workplace safety standards must be at least as effective as the federal requirements, according to the law that established OSHA.
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