Legislation about COVID-19 vaccines and testing is becoming more and more complicated as the nation’s recovery efforts evolve. From executive orders at the federal level to local, city, and state mandates, it can be difficult to navigate the responsibility that independent businesses must assume in a post-pandemic world. We created this resource to help salon, spa, and beauty business owners identify whether or not they are required by law to mandate that either staff or customers show proof of vaccination.
COVID 19 • COVID-19
What Beauty Pros Need To Know About Vaccine Mandates
Here’s what beauty companies need to know about the state of COVID-19 vaccination mandates for private businesses.
UPDATED: December 16, 2021
On November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) approved President Biden’s proposed federal vaccine mandate with the release of an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS document lays out the requirement for all companies with 100 or more employees to either develop, implement, and enforce company-wide vaccination policies, or adopt policies of mask-wearing and weekly COVID-19 testing.
An announcement by the White House detailed some of the main points of the ETS, including:
By December 6th, all unvaccinated employees at covered companies must begin wearing masks.
By January 4th, all unvaccinated employees must begin providing weekly negative test results.
Employers are required to compensate employees for the time it takes them to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.
In response to the approval and release of the ETS rules, a series of lawsuits were filed in states all over the country. Then on November 6th, the New Orleans Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay blocking the federal policy on the grounds of “grave statutory and constitutional issues”.
Litigation is arising at a breakneck pace as those in favor of the federal mandate fight for it to take hold and those against it push to stop it before it starts. On November 29, 2021, a Federal Court in Missouri issued an order on behalf of ten states pushing back against the federal mandate. On November 30, 2021, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in an effort to stop the nationwide mandate from taking effect at all.
Until the various lawsuits, orders, and injunctions are settled, attorneys specializing in employment law recommend that companies with 100 or more employees should still actively prepare their company-wide vaccination and/or testing policies in advance of the December and January deadlines. That way they will be covered and prepared no matter what happens during litigation.
Mandates on Personal Care Businesses
New rules for personal care businesses took effect in Los Angeles’ West Hollywood area starting in October 2021. Both customers and employees will be required to show proof of vaccination to gain access to indoor areas of personal care businesses, in addition to the more commonly mentioned venues, like those that serve food and drinks and health and fitness facilities.
Although no localities have followed West Hollywood’s lead in responding specifically to personal care businesses, many city councils across the country have approved vaccine mandates for municipal workers and city-owned buildings.
Bigger cities like New Orleans and San Francisco have mandated proof of vaccination for patrons visiting certain indoor businesses (like restaurants, bars, and gyms) but do not include personal care businesses in those mandates. New York State issued specific reopening guidelines for personal care businesses, but does not mandate proof of vaccination for employees or customers.
States Without Any Mandates for Private Businesses
As of December 1, 2021 the following states do not require private businesses to mandate that their employees are vaccinated. Some cities and smaller localities have their own rules, though, and case rates and legislations (at every level) are changing constantly. Make sure to check with your local, city, and state governments to determine whether or not you need to mandate that your beauty business employees are vaccinated.
Arizona: Private businesses are permitted to require their employees to provide COVID-19 vaccination status, but SB 1824 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill does allow health care institutions to require their employees to be vaccinated.
District of Columbia
Wyoming: HB 1002 bans public entities from enforcing federal vaccine mandates.
State-Wide Bans on Mandates for Private Businesses
In some states, requiring privately owned businesses to mandate vaccination among their employees is now against the law. As of December 1, 2021, these are the states that have banned vaccination mandates for private businesses:
Montana: This state bans all private employers from requiring vaccines. HB 702 prohibits employment discrimination based on vaccination status, and prohibits the requirement of vaccines that are actively undergoing safety trials or have received emergency use authorization status.
Tennessee: This state bans all private employers from requiring vaccines. SB 9014 prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, discriminating or denying employment, or firing, threatening, or changing employment terms based on vaccination status.
States with Exemptions from Mandates for Private Businesses
As of December 1, 2021, these are the states that have passed legislation requiring private businesses to honor employee exemptions from federal vaccine mandates:
Alabama: Executive Order 724 directs Alabama state agencies not to enforce the federal vaccine mandate, requires them to cooperate with efforts to overturn the mandate, and bars them from punishing businesses or individuals who don’t comply with the mandate. SB 9 requires employers to permit employees to claim exemptions from the vaccine mandate due to medical issues or religious beliefs.
Arkansas: Private companies in Arkansas are required to allow employees to opt out of vaccine mandates if they are tested weekly or can prove they have antibodies.
Florida: HB 1B requires companies to allow employees to opt out of vaccine mandates based on religious reasons, medical exemption, COVID-19 immunity, regular testing or PPE usage.
Iowa: HF 902 requires companies to allow employees to opt out of vaccine mandates based on medical exemptions or religious beliefs.
Kansas: HB 2001 requires employers to allow medical and religious exemptions from mandated vaccine requirements.
North Dakota: HB 1465 prohibits the state government from requiring private businesses to obtain proof of vaccination or pathogen, antigen, or antibody testing prior to employment. HB 1511 allows employees to opt out of vaccine mandates based on medical exemptions, periodic COVID-19 testing, proof of COVID-19 antibodies, or religious, philosophical, or moral beliefs opposing immunization.
Texas: Executive Order GA-40 bans any private business from requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof from employees or customers who object based on religious beliefs or medical reasons.
Utah: Utah Code 26-68-101 states that the government cannot mandate emergency COVID-19 vaccines except for individuals who are both acting in a public health/medical setting and required to receive the vaccine in order to perform the duties of their job. SB 2004 requires businesses with vaccine mandates to grant exemptions to employees with medical or religious conflicts.
West Virginia: HB 335 requires private companies with vaccine mandates to allow employees to opt out based on certified medical or religious exemptions, and prohibits penalizing or discriminating against current or future employees based on those exemptions.
Organizations like the National Academy for State Health Policy and Littler update their websites constantly as legislation changes state by state. Check in with those helpful resources and follow the official news in your region to determine the best way to handle your beauty business’ vaccination policy.