Federal employees do not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to their offices, a note from the Biden administration seen by Reuters news agency said.
U.S. government employees should not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to work or disclosing their immunization status, according to guidelines to be released by the President’s administration on Thursday. American Joe Biden.
Workers can voluntarily disclose this information, and federal agencies can base their safety protocols, in part, on employee vaccinations, according to the guidelines.
In a 20-page memo seen by Reuters news agency, the acting heads of three agencies that oversee the federal workforce also urged agencies to consider more flexible arrangements for some employees, including labor. remote permanent part-time and work outside normal working hours.
The advice comes as many U.S. government workers who worked remotely during the coronavirus pandemic prepare to return to their offices. It comes on the same day the US Department of Labor issued an emergency rule to protect workers in healthcare facilities.
The federal government employs more than four million people, making it the largest employer in the United States. Almost 60% of federal employees worked remotely during the pandemic, up from about 3% previously, according to Thursday’s note.
The guidelines require agencies to submit draft proposals by next week and more detailed final plans, including timelines for reopening, by July 19.
The note is signed by the acting heads of the Bureau of Management and Budget (OMB), Bureau of Personnel Management and General Service Administration.
Jason Miller, deputy director of management at OMB, said in a statement that the guidelines underscore worker safety as a top priority as agencies plan to reopen their offices.
“This moment provides a unique opportunity to examine the role of the federal government as a model employer, as we strive to implement consistent but flexible whole-of-government practices that will foster effective, fair and inclusive work environments,” Miller said.
Officials also said that “the possible post-pandemic operational state of agencies could differ significantly from [their] pre-pandemic operating state ”.
That could mean detaching some workers from physical offices, which would allow agencies to recruit nationally and share offices while reducing the time employees spend traveling, they said.
Officials have warned that agencies may need to negotiate with unions before implementing certain policies, such as changes to work schedules and safety protocols. About 30 percent of federal workers are represented by unions.