Unvaccinated Federal Employees Can Be Disciplined After Nov. 9

Unvaccinated Federal Employees Can Be Disciplined After Nov. 9 gloved hands prepare needle (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 01 October 2021 02:42 PM

Federal employees, who are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose, have until Nov. 8 to receive a vaccination or an exemption from the executive order requiring vaccination or they could face discipline.

In a memo from White House Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja, employees were told, "agencies should require all of their employees, with exceptions only as required by law, to be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021," and that "people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot in a two-dose series, or two weeks after a single-shot series."

It also warns that "employees who refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination are subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including removal or termination from Federal service. The only exception is for individuals who receive a legally required exception pursuant to established agency processes. Given this timeline, agencies may initiate the enforcement process as soon as November 9, 2021, for employees who have not completed their vaccination dose(s) by November 8."

Federal News Network reports that guidance from OPM also states that if an employee does not provide proof of vaccination or of an exemption from the order, without a pending reasonable accommodation request before the deadline date, the office recommends that agencies provide these employees with counseling or education.

"Agencies should use the counseling period to remind the employee again of the vaccination requirement, emphasize that failure to comply will lead to discipline up to and including removal or termination, address any questions, and inform the employee that they will have a short period of time (e.g., 5 days) to submit documentation establishing either the initiation or completion of vaccination, as applicable, or request an exception."

An OPM official told Federal News Network that "We want to be fair to employees while also laying out an efficient process that shows that we’re serious about this and that compliance is mandatory."

They added that "One approach we could have taken is to advise agencies that as soon they know about unvaccinated employees by the deadline… they could have moved directly to proposing removal. We don’t think that’s in the best interest of the government, the American people or the employee."