We have resisted opining on mandatory COVID vaccinations for federal employees for a while now. This is primarily due to the simple fact guidance is still being promulgated by federal departments and agencies within those departments and the issue is still in doubt at non-federal levels of government employment. Therefore, we will briefly cover the situation for now as we are receiving many calls.
However, two key facts in relation to this issue must be acknowledged to provide context for any proper discussion. First, vaccinations have been empirically and unequivocally proven to be both effective and safe and only a fool would argue otherwise as a defense to not obtaining a required vaccination. Second, as an employer, the federal government has the legal authority to require vaccinations as a condition of employment of its employees. Anyone advising an employee otherwise, is putting the employment of that employee at significant risk. The standard union advice permeating federal sector of “just file for an exemption” is not acceptable because the exemptions being sought are predicated upon misrepresentation, and in some cases, outright fraud.
Current Enforcement Guidance
The Safer Federal Workforce has issued the following advice to agencies concerning enforcement of the vaccination requirement. At this time, federal agencies consider this advice controlling to the issue of enforcement.
Exceptions to Mandatory COVID Vaccinations
Of course, as noted above, there will be a different process for those claiming a legal and recognized exemption to the vaccination requirement as, in general, noted below.
However, it is not reasonable to assume an exemption will be approved. Employees should expect all such requests to be scrutinized in an unprecedented manner and at all levels of appeal.
The Current Bottom Line
Federal employees currently have little choice in reality (and practicality) concerning mandatory COVID vaccinations, despite all the union and special interest rhetoric opining otherwise. You can either comply with agency instructions or take your chances on appeal if you are removed from federal service or your probationary period is terminated. In the best case scenario if you are removed from federal service, you could face years waiting for your appeal to be heard as the Merit Systems Protection Board and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will be swamped under an avalanche of claims, legitimate or not.
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