The devil is in the details of the President Biden vaccine mandates that affect some 80 million Americans.
Federal workers must have their final Covid-19 vaccine no later than Nov. 8 to meet the Nov. 22 deadline to be fully vaccinated, according to new guidance just released by the Biden Administration.
The guidance, published at this federal government link on Thursday, is the rest of the story of the executive order Biden issued Sept. 9, requiring federal employees and those working in companies with federal contracts, as well as those working in companies with more than 100 employees to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, unless they are granted an exemption.
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force says that agencies no longer are required to give administrative leave for federal employees to get the vaccine; workers will instead use “duty time” to get the vaccine, but may request administrative leave for recovery from any side effects, adverse reactions, or to accompany family members to get vaccinated.
The mandate includes all who are in complete telework status or who are working remotely.
“An agency may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation to employees who communicate to the agency that they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 because of a disability or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance,” said the guidance. “Determining whether an exception is legally required will include consideration of factors such as the basis for the claim; the nature of the employee’s job responsibilities; and the reasonably foreseeable effects on the agency’s operations, including protecting other agency employees and the public from COVID-19,” the guidance states.
The federal guidance says disciplinary actions should be taken against those who refuse to comply: “… the agency must provide the required procedural rights to an employee and follow normal processes, including any agency policies or collective bargaining agreement requirements concerning disciplinary matters.”
While the employees is challenging the mandate through union or lawsuit, the federal government says it will not put them on administrative leave, but can take other measures.
The task force told federal agencies in February to ban those employees who won’t wear masks correctly, by putting them on paid administrative leave until the punishment is decided.
“As an initial matter, an agency should provide employees with information regarding the benefits of vaccination and ways to obtain the vaccine. If the individual continues to refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination, the agency should pursue disciplinary measures, up to and including removal from Federal service. In pursuing any adverse action, the agency must provide the required procedural rights to an employee and follow normal processes, including any agency policies or collective bargaining agreement requirements concerning disciplinary matters. Employees should not be placed on administrative leave while pursuing an adverse action for refusal to be vaccinated, but will be required to follow safety protocols for employees who are not fully vaccinated when reporting to agency worksites,” the guidance says.
“An agency should follow a different process if the employee claims a legally required exception as the reason for not being vaccinated or providing proof of vaccination. In that case, an agency should follow its ordinary process to review and consider what, if any, reasonable accommodation it must offer. All agency personnel designated to receive requests for reasonable accommodations should know how to handle requests consistent with any Federal employment nondiscrimination laws that may apply. If the employee’s request for an accommodation is denied, and the employee does not comply with the vaccination requirement, the agency may pursue disciplinary action, up to and including removal from Federal service,” it says.
In addition, “Agencies are strongly encouraged to incorporate vaccination requirements into contracts that are not covered by Executive Order 14042, consistent with applicable law. This might include, for example, incorporating vaccination requirements into contracts in advance of when they are otherwise required by the Executive Order or incorporating requirements into contracts that are not covered by the Executive Order, such as contracts under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold. Implementation of such additional requirements should generally follow the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force’s guidance for implementing the vaccination requirement in Executive Order 14042.”
Read the entire federal guidance for the Biden Vaccine Mandate at this link.