US government workers can return to office without COVID jab

A Biden administration memo seen by Reuters news agency said federal employees are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to offices.

United States government employees should not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to their workplaces or disclosing their vaccination status, according to guidance to be issued by US President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday. needed.

The guidance states that workers may voluntarily disclose this information and that federal agencies may base their safety protocols in part based on whether or not employees have been vaccinated.

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 permanent part-time remote work and general business Including working outside hours.

Guidance comes as many US government workers who are working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic prepare to return to their offices. It comes on the same day that the US Department of Labor issued an emergency rule to protect workers in health care settings.

The federal government employs more than four million people, making it the largest employer in America. According to Thursday’s memo, about 60 percent of federal employees worked remotely during the pandemic, up from about 3 percent previously.

The guidance requires agencies to submit draft proposals by next week and more detailed final plans, including reopening the program, by July 19.

The memorandum has been signed by the acting heads of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration.

Jason Miller, deputy director of management at OMB, said in a statement that the guidance underscores that worker safety is a top priority as agencies plan to reopen offices.

Miller said, “This moment in time provides a unique opportunity to look at the role of the federal government as a model employer, as we strive to implement consistent but flexible government-wide practices that are effective, equitable and Will promote an inclusive work environment.”

Officials also said the agencies’ “last post-pandemic operations state could differ in significant ways”. [their] Pre-pandemic operational state”.

He said this could mean adding some workers to physical offices, which would enable agencies to recruit and share office space across the country, while reducing the time it takes for employees to commute.

Officials cautioned that agencies may have to negotiate with unions before implementing certain policies, such as changes to work schedules and safety protocols. About 30 percent of federal employees are represented by unions.


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