A new legislative package signed into law will prevent workers from being required to get vaccinated.
Thursday in Brandon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a package of anti-covid vaccination bills. He stated this was the strongest legislation of its kind against a federal mandate on employer vaccine requirements.
The bills state employers will be required to allow Covid-19 vaccination exemptions, including reasons related to health or religious concerns, pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy, and past recovery from Covid-19.
“I look forward to signing legislation that will protect their jobs and the jobs of all Floridians who are facing unjust termination due to heavy-handed mandates,” DeSantis tweeted before signing the bills.
Mandates for requiring employees to be vaccinated among other regulations such as the wearing of masks have been put in place by many municipalities and businesses throughout Florida.
In St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman does not require vaccines for current city employees but does require it for new hires to become vaccinated against Covid-19.
Kriseman has encouraged existing workers to get vaccinated by offering two hours of paid leave for each vaccination a worker gets during work hours.
“A mayor forcing a genuinely frightened person to get the vaccine or get fired isn’t going to make us a better organization,” Kriseman said in a video about the enforcement.
Kriseman’s office said he is communicating with his legal team regarding how the newly-signed bills will impact the city, especially on the city employment front.
A highlight of what the new law dictates:
- It restricts businesses’ ability to mandate vaccines for their employees. Companies have to offer workers a number of exemptions or risk fines of at least $10,000 per violation from the state.
- It bans school districts from passing mask mandates. The Pinellas County School District does not have a mask mandate.
- DeSantis is to form a plan for the state to eventually create a new agency to replace the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in monitoring workplace safety.
The legislation follows the Biden Administration’s rule on mandating employers with a certain employee headcount to require workers to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.
Affected health care facilities that do not abide would jeopardize losing Medicare and Medicaid funding.
DeSantis said hospitals have been battling to preserve supplies and retain staff, but legislation such as the mandate on requiring vaccinations for health care workers is an added challenge and hospital staff may face an even larger staffing issue.
“This is about power. It’s about control … it makes absolutely no sense to do this,” the governor said regarding the Biden Administration’s decisions.