By Sarah Fortinsky
Federal agencies and department heads can begin enforcing President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for their employees early next month, according to new guidelines from the US Bureau of Human Resources.
To be considered fully vaccinated by November 22, federal employees must receive their final vaccination dose by November 8.
An OPM memo released on Friday sets November 9 as the first day authorities can take disciplinary action against federal employees who still refuse to be vaccinated without legal exception.
Agencies are advised to start the process with a five-day consultation and training period and allow staff to demonstrate that they have started the vaccination process or apply for an exemption.
If the employee still refuses, the agency should take disciplinary action, “including removal or dismissal”.
However, the authorities are “strongly advised” to consider a brief suspension of 14 days or less for the federal employee before firing or firing him.
Federal News Network was the first to report on the updated guidelines.
The guidelines come after a reversal of the government’s approach in mid-September when federal employees could be fired for failing to comply with the vaccine mandate. It had previously said employees could be given leave of absence.
OPM said employees should not be taken on administrative leave during the disciplinary process.
It also states that if a worker provides evidence of a single dose of vaccination during a disciplinary action, “the authority should postpone discipline in order to allow the worker a reasonable time to get the full vaccination”. If an employee asserts a legal exception, the due review process must be initiated.
The memo follows the Biden Executive Order signed on September 9, which requires all government employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
This guidance comes a week after four Air Force officers and an intelligence agent filed a lawsuit asking the court to block the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, the Washington Post reported.
Biden has also directed the Department of Labor to ensure of all companies with 100 or more employees that their employees are either vaccinated or tested once a week.
The CNN Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.