The $2 trillion consumer packaged goods industry has questions about President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine order.
The trade group that represents consumer goods giants like Coca-Cola, Kellogg and General Mills sent a letter to the White House on Monday demanding “immediate clarity” on the details of the order, which requires companies with 100 or more employees to mandate the vaccine or get tested weekly.
In the letter, Consumer Brands Association CEO Geoff Freeman called on the administration and relevant federal agencies to “move quickly, anticipate challenges, promptly answer questions and partner with the private sector … [to] achieve our shared goal of increased vaccination rates.”
“Strong, consistent collaboration between the private and public sector on implementation will accelerate progress on our shared goal,” he added.
Included in the letter is a laundry list of 19 bulleted questions, including, “What is considered documentation for proof of vaccination and how will booster doses be factored into compliance?”
“How does this mandate impact locations with collective bargaining agreements?” reads another question, along with, “Will waivers be allowed if essential employees’ absences or attrition cause significant disruption to the CPG supply chain?”
The letter comes after the White House last week unveiled its new COVID-19 Action Plan, which said the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working on an emergency rule that will call for companies with 100 or more employees to mandate the vaccine or rollout a weekly testing regimen.
Administration officials have said companies that violate the rule could be slapped with penalties of $14,000 per violation.
But in a statement issued after the administration’s announcement last week, the Consumer Brands Association’s Freeman noted that official government guidance during the pandemic has lagged months behind announcements before.
“As with other mandates, the devil is in the details,” Freeman said in a statement last week. “Without additional clarification for the business community, employee anxieties and questions will multiply.”
Freeman said his group has received 50 “unique questions” about the vaccine order, but here are the 19 his group sent to Biden on Monday:
- What is considered documentation for proof of vaccination and how will booster doses be factored into compliance?
- Must an employee be fully vaccinated in order to work?
- How will the requirements address natural immunity? Will individuals that have contracted COVID-19 be required to be vaccinated or submit to testing requirements?
- Will the requirements only apply to vaccines that are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration?
- Does the government have plans to centralize vaccination tracking or is it the responsibility of businesses to manage?
- What are the consequences of falsifying one’s vaccination status and does responsibility rest with the individual or employer?
- Is there a single testing standard that must be met that would be considered compliant to the negative test result requirement?
- What is considered to be suitable documentation of a negative test result?
- What are the consequences of falsifying test results and does responsibility rest with the individual or employer?
- How long will documentation of test results need to be held?
- If an employee takes a COVID-19 test but the results are not yet available, can the employee continue to work pending the results?
- Will business testing programs that test all employees on-site during the day meet the requirements for unvaccinated workers’ need to test before coming to work?
- Should employees choose not to vaccinate, is the company or employee responsible for securing and paying for testing? Will paid time off have to be given for weekly testing requirements?
- When will the requirements be formally issued and what is the timeline for compliance?
- How does this mandate impact locations with collective bargaining agreements?
- Will this federal requirement preempt existing state-imposed obligations?
- Will the federal requirements supersede state expense reimbursement statutes?
- Do the new federal requirements include exemptions based on religious beliefs and disabilities?
- Will waivers be allowed if essential employees’ absences or attrition cause significant disruption to the CPG supply chain?