OSHA suspends implementation of Biden's COVID vaccine mandate until further court order

The mandate could be tied up in court beyond the Jan. 4 deadline OSHA set for employers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put on hold the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. employers with 100 employees or more, after being told by a court last week that it must do so.

The Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA, told Fox News Wednesday the agency has suspended the implementation and enforcement of the mandate while it remains tied up in court.

joe biden vaccine

President Joe Biden talks about the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (AP Photo/Susan Walsh / AP Newsroom)


In an update on its website on Wednesday, OSHA noted that last week "the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a motion to stay OSHA's COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard" and "ordered that OSHA ‘take no steps to implement or enforce’ the ETS ‘until further court order.’"

The statement adds, "While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation."

OSHA vaccine mandate

A woman uses a sign to shield herself from the sun while attending a rally held to protest the city's new COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Los Angeles Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong / AP Newsroom)

The mandate requiring employers to force employees to either be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly coronavirus testing became effective Nov. 5 when it was published in the Federal Register, and gave employers a deadline of Jan. 4 to comply before enforcement would begin. 

While the sweeping regulation has been hit with waves of court challenges, the administration has staunchly defended the policy despite saying as recently as July that vaccine mandates are not in the federal government's purview.

White House vaccination

Vaccination illustration (iStock) (istock / iStock)


Last week, the White House urged businesses impacted by the mandate to continue following with the administration's paused diktat in spite of the Fifth Circuit's ruling. 

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing following the decision that "People should not wait," adding, "They should continue to move forward and make sure they're getting their workplace vaccinated."

Fox News' Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.