Recommendations by the Safer Federal Workforce task force on Thursday state that the administration “strongly encourages” all Americans to get the vaccine, vaccination “should generally not be a pre-condition for employees or contractors at executive departments and agencies to work in-person in Federal buildings, on Federal lands, and in other settings as required by their job duties.”
The guidance also says that employees should not be mandated to disclose their vaccination status, but if an employee does disclose they are unvaccinated, “agencies should use that information to implement CDC-recommended mitigation measures, including masking and physical distancing.”
According to the Washington Post, agencies are also expecting additional guidance later this month regarding what the federal workplace will look like when employees return, including how many can be in office space at once and what future telework policies will look like.
“We anticipate this guidance will leave room for decision-making at departments and agencies, to provide maximum flexibility for defining work requirements to meet mission and workforce needs,” an anonymous senior administration official told the Post. Officials also told the paper that individual agencies will decide their own telework policies according to the needs of employees, the department’s mission, and supervisor preferences.
A survey by the Office of Personnel Management found in a survey of federal employees that before the pandemic began, only three percent of the federal workforce teleworked daily, but during the peak of the pandemic, a record 59 percent of federal employees teleworked every day.
Contrary to the guidance for federal workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced earlier in the month that private employers can require vaccination for employees, although the EEOC did remind employers that access to the vaccine is not yet equitable for all groups. But not many companies have moved forward with that requirement, the New York Times reported, because the vaccine has not yet received full FDA approval and because of complicated legal considerations required by the EEOC to mandate vaccination.