Personnel Office Urged to Provide Feds with Administrative Leave to Get COVID-19 Vaccinations
Washington, D.C.- area House Democrats said some agencies have declined to offer paid time off, although the lawmakers would not say which ones.
A group of House Democrats representing the Washington, D.C., area last week urged the Biden administration to grant federal workers paid administrative leave so that they can get COVID-19 vaccinations.
In a letter, Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., and six other lawmakers asked acting Office of Personnel Management Director Kathleen McGettigan to make sure that federal employees can get vaccinated without having to take annual or unpaid leave.
“The health and safety of federal employees is absolutely paramount to the mission of every federal agency,” the lawmakers wrote. “Our federal employees have been challenged throughout this pandemic by adjusting their jobs to work under these strenuous circumstances. Ensuring an environment for employees to easily vaccinate is the fastest way for federal agencies to be able to function at their most productive level.”
Beyer said that agencies should consider that leave related to getting the COVID-19 vaccine complements the federal government’s efforts to combat the pandemic and is an essential part of their missions. But some feds have reported that their agencies have not offered paid leave for this purpose, although the lawmakers declined to mention the organizations by name.
“We understand that some federal employees are not providing employees with administrative time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” they wrote. “[Given] the Centers for Disease Control’s guidance that approved COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing death and infection as well as the societal need for as many vaccinated individuals as possible in order to eliminate the virus, it is imperative that the federal government take every possible step to encourage federal employees to receive the vaccine, including providing them with administrative time to do so.”
The Democrats also suggested that OPM clarify that agencies should offer their workers additional paid sick leave after employees get the vaccine in some instances.
“We must continue to do all that we can to ensure federal employee safety,” they wrote. “Mandating that federal agencies provide administrative time to get vaccinated is a necessary step, and allowing a couple additional days of paid sick leave for any post-vaccination symptoms is common sense.”
The lawmakers gave McGettigan a deadline of Feb. 19 to respond to their request.
“OPM is committed to working with agencies to identify available HR flexibilities — including administrative leave — to enable federal employees to access the vaccine,” an OPM spokesperson said. “Additional guidance on this topic is expected in the coming days.”
This story has been updated with comment from OPM.