Additional Details on Vaccine Requirement Released (10/1/2021)
Posted On: Oct 04, 2021
Additional Details on Vaccine Requirement Released
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has released additional details on the vaccine mandate in new FAQs and during a briefing with NTEU earlier this week. The new information largely covers issues surrounding enforcement of the requirement. All of this information and more are available on NTEU's newly-updated FAQs page.
The Task Force is advising agencies to work with employees to encourage their compliance. Although unique circumstances may come into play, here are the guidelines agencies should follow when determining their own disciplinary process:
- Agencies may initiate the enforcement process as soon as Nov. 9, for employees who fail to submit documentation showing the required vaccination dose(s) by Nov. 8, as long as they have not received an accommodation and the agency is not considering an accommodation request.
-Failure to become fully vaccinated by the Nov. 22 deadline without an approved reasonable accommodation or a request in progress would be considered a “failure to comply with a lawful order.”
-As a first step, an employee will have about a five day-period with education and counseling about the vaccine to begin taking steps to get vaccinated.
-If the employee still refuses to take the initial steps toward becoming fully vaccinated, agencies should propose a suspension of 14 days or fewer. If the employee takes steps toward complying prior to a final agency decision on that suspension, the disciplinary action should be held in abeyance while the employee gets fully vaccinated.
-Employees who don't get vaccinated should not be placed on administrative leave while the agency is pursuing an adverse action. When reporting to agency worksites, these employees must follow safety protocols like masking and social distancing.
-If the employee continues to refuse to become fully vaccinated, agencies should propose removal.
Employees Who Previously Tested Positive for COVID-19
Employees who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 must still get vaccinated. According to the Task Force, there may be limited circumstances where an employee’s medical professional recommends a slight delay in receiving the vaccination if the employee recently had COVID. These instances would be handled through a reasonable accommodation request.
Antibodies Tests as Proof of Inoculation
Employees may not provide antibodies test results instead of proof/documentation of being fully vaccinated. The executive order requires employees to be fully vaccinated absent an approved reasonable accommodation for medical reasons or religious objections.
The Task Force did not provide much new information on accommodations and indicated that its long-awaited additional guidance will be issued next week. NTEU will keep you updated as new guidance and details are available.