Starbucks institutes new vaccine mandate based on OSHA guidelines.
Seattle-based Starbucks has announced that its U.S. workers must be fully vaccinated by February 9 or receive weekly COVID testing. The coffeemaker indicated it was acting in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issuing a vaccine-or-test requirement for companies with more than 100 employees in November 2021.
The guidelines specifically say, “The [COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard or ETS] requires covered employers to establish, implement, and enforce a written mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy with an exception for employers that instead establish, implement, and enforce a written policy that requires unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at the workplace instead of vaccination.”
Furthermore, the “ETS requires covered employers to ensure that each employee who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or collective bargaining agreements or other collectively negotiated agreements. In addition, nothing prohibits employers from voluntarily assuming the costs associated with testing. The ETS does not require employers to pay for any costs associated with testing. However, employer payment for testing may be required by other laws, regulations, or collective bargaining agreements or other collectively negotiated agreements. In addition, nothing prohibits employers from voluntarily assuming the costs associated with testing.”
The OSHA requirement has faced many lawsuits but was upheld in December by a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals. Starbucks said its 228,000 U.S. employees must share their vaccination status by January 10.
“I recognize that partners have a wide spectrum of views on vaccinations, much like the rest of the country,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver said in an employee letter sent late month. “My responsibility, and that of every leader, is to do whatever we can to help keep you safe and create the safest work environment possible…There is no ‘perfect’ option, and every scenario has its own complexities.”
Starbucks said to be fully vaccinated employees must have received two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. If an employee chooses to test instead, they must pay the cost and get tested a pharmacy, clinic or other testing location where the test is being observed by a third-party. Religious or medical accommodations will be considered, but in order to work in a store, employees must test weekly. Employees who have a positive result will be able to use paid time to self-isolate. Starbucks will be offering two periods of paid isolation time up to five days each.
In a separate letter to its U.S. stores, Starbucks said it is experiencing more Covid-19 “exposures, cases and self-isolations” among its work force. The company is extending referral bonuses, which are being paid to baristas for recommending hourly workers through April 3, 2022, as it undergoes a continued staff shortage during this time.