Late this afternoon, additional details on documentation of a vaccine, religious and medical accommodations and enforcement of the mandate were released by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
We have heard from NTEU members with concerns about the vaccine mandate and these comments and questions have been very helpful. NTEU continues to share all of our members’ perspectives and concerns with officials from the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget and the Task Force. We will continue to share information with you as we receive it.
NTEU will update our FAQs with this information. We encourage you to review the information on vaccines at the Task Force’s website. Here are some key pieces of information.
Today’s Task Force guidance provides information agencies need to craft their vaccination programs. In turn, the guidance also brings into focus the areas in which NTEU will direct its bargaining efforts. The union is engaging all agencies where we represent employees and making demands for briefings and to bargain, which we will aggressively pursue to protect employees’ interests as the mandate is rolled out.
Vaccines and Documentation
The deadline to be fully vaccinated is Nov. 22. To be considered “fully vaccinated” employees must have their final dose by Nov. 8, 2021. Fully vaccinated means you are two weeks past the final dose.
There are various ways to document your vaccination status but all documentation must include the type of vaccine, date(s) administered, and health care provider or clinic that administered the vaccine.
Employees can submit documentation electronically.
Agencies must follow privacy laws in collecting and sharing the information.
Medical and Religious Accommodations
NTEU was looking for specific guidance to agencies to address questions about natural immunity, guidance to pregnant and nursing mothers and employees who have recovered from COVID-19. The Task Force did not provide much helpful information on accommodations and says that additional guidance will be issued. But today’s information does say that in deciding on an employee’s request the agency will look at several factors including: 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.
There are still a number of outstanding questions on the accommodations. Among them are how an employee makes the request and what information needs to be included in the request. NTEU will be following up with the administration on the process and the reasoning that will be applied to employees’ requests.
On Monday, the Task Force updated its FAQs and no longer included administrative leave as an option for post-vaccination side effects. NTEU immediately objected and argued that the option for administrative leave was vital, especially for those employees with limited personal leave. The Task Force responded and has changed its guidance to provide for this administrative leave once again.