Required Vaccinations for All Federal Employees: 75 Days to Comply or Possible Removal

The Biden administration plans to require vaccinations for all federal employees to combat the spread of COVID.

President Biden is reportedly going to issue Executive Orders creating required vaccinations for all federal workers and millions of government contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Orders for Required Vaccinations Coming Out Shortly

The executive orders will apparently be issued later today. The actions are part of a more extensive plan to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

One order will require all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated. Another Order will direct the same requirement for employees of contractors that do business with the federal government.

Update: The executive orders were issued as expected. For details on the EO impacting federal employees, see Mandatory Vaccinations or Possible Removal.

75 Days to Get Vaxxed or Face Possible Removal

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today, ‘There will be limited exceptions for legally recognized reasons disability or religious objections. Anyone who fails to comply, they will go through the standard HR process, which includes counseling and face disciplinary action,” she added.

The action taken could include termination if a person refuses to be vaccinated.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that,” according to Ms. Psaki.

She added, “Obviously the federal workforce is one of the largest in the country and we would like to be a model to what we think other businesses, organizations should do. The expectation is that if you want to work with the federal government or be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated unless you are eligible for one of the exemptions.”

Justice Dept Concluded Vaccine Mandates are Legal

The Justice Department recently said in a legal opinion that vaccine mandates from public agencies and private companies are legal. However, that doesn’t mean that employees have to get a vaccination; some have chosen to quit insteadothers were fired.

President Biden said recently: “[I]if you’re not vaccinated you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were. We have a pandemic because of the unvaccinated, and they’re sowing enormous confusion.”

No Option for Testing in Lieu of Vaccinations

The Executive Order goes beyond what Biden announced earlier this summer, when federal workers had the option of being tested regularly instead of getting vaccinated. Testing will no longer be an option.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in an interview today:

What we’ve seen work over the past couple months are mandates, requirements, making it so workers in the federal government or others have to get vaccinated. We’ve seen it work and we’ve seen it become more popular. He’s going to speak directly to vaccinated people and their frustrations and he wants them to hear how we’re going to build on what we’ve done to date to get the virus under control.

While all details of the new Order to be issued are not available yet, the Order is certain to be controversial and will be strongly opposed by some federal employees. The details to be announced shortly will probably have an impact on the extent of the opposition.

The new policies are to be announced on Thursday afternoon in a speech.

Normally, one would anticipate a strong reaction from federal employee unions. However, the unions are strong allies of the administration. While their reaction from a Trump administration would have been long and loud, any opposition raised by the unions is likely to be more restrained.

FedSmith author Joe Swerdzewski recently addressed the issue of required vaccinations for federal workers and noted:

What the union could propose is a due process system to handle employee refusals. Rather than bog down the EEO system with reasonable accommodation requests or potentially be forced to remove employees, the Agency and union could agree on a system that expeditiously handles refusals. This system could quickly handle refusals and provide an expeditious result based on a fair and timely review of employee concerns. It also could develop alternative work arrangements for employees who do not want to take the vaccine. The concept is to jointly develop a system that will make it easier and more efficient for both employees and the Agency. 

Any bargaining that takes place must be done on a fast track which ensures that both the union and the Agency are providing employees with quick and thoughtful answers to the challenge of the new vaccines.

In a recent survey on FedSmith, 60% of readers indicated they should not be required to get a vaccine as a condition of their employment.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47