What's Known So Far About the Vaccine Mandate for Feds, and More
A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.
Last week, the Biden administration instituted a mandate that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, eliminating the previous exception in the case of workers who agree to wear masks and submit to regular testing.
President Biden signed two executive orders, one requiring federal workers to be vaccinated with limited exceptions for religious or medical accommodations, and another doing the same for employees of federal contractors.
On Monday, the White House Safer Workforce Taskforce began to update its guidance to federal agencies to reflect the new policies, announcing that the deadline for federal workers to be fully vaccinated is Nov. 22. If a federal worker has not complied with the vaccine mandate by that date, he or she may be subject to progressive discipline, White House officials said.
Additionally, Monday’s guidance stipulates that now that the vaccine is mandatory for federal employees, agencies no longer must provide administrative leave to employees for the time it takes to get the shot. Now, employees may simply take up to four hours to get vaccinated while on duty hours. Federal employees may be eligible for overtime pay if they must get vaccinated outside of normal work hours, but only if it is because of “unforeseen circumstances.”
More detailed guidance on how agencies should implement the new vaccine mandate is due by Thursday.
Meanwhile, the second-largest health insurance provider for federal employees has extended the deadline for federal employees to sign up for a program that provides cash incentives to people who get vaccinated until the end of the year.
The Government Employees Health Association announced last week that federal employees enrolled in their Federal Employees Health Benefits Program insurance plans can receive a $75 credit on their wellness accounts, which are used to pay for health expenses like copays and prescriptions, until Dec. 31.
Previously, the deadline to get the first dose of the vaccine was Sept. 6 for the incentive program, although proof of full vaccination was still required by the end of 2021. Now, in order to be eligible for the cash incentive, GEHA enrollees have until Dec. 31 to get their first dose and request the reward.
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