Federal agencies prepare to take action against unvaccinated workers

Federal agencies do not expect the suspensions and firings to cause massive disruptions due to the current high rate of compliance from staff.
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COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine
(Stock photo)

The Biden administration is preparing to implement its stringent COVID-19 vaccine mandate on unvaccinated federal employees following Novemebr instructions from the White House for agencies to hold off on enforcement until after the New Year.

"Agencies continue to move forward with the process, including taking progressive disciplinary measures as necessary,” an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) spokesperson told The Hill on Sunday.

Agencies are free to move forward at their discretion with harsher measures to enforce compliance, The Hill reports. 

While agencies have yet to lay out specific timelines for suspensions, specifically the General Services Administration, Social Security Administration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the departments of Agriculture, Treasury and Transportation are expected to start suspending non-compliant employees within the next several weeks.

Federal agencies do not expect the suspensions and firings to cause massive disruptions due to the current high rate of compliance from staff.

When the Biden administration first deferred the mandate in November, 96.5% of the 3.5 million federal employees were reportedly vaccinated. Workers were eligible to apply for a religious or medical exemption as well. 

The White House and the Department of Education reportedly were the first agencies to reach full compliance with the mandate this past week. 

Other agencies are near-full compliance. A Department of Transportation spokesperson told The Hill that 99.9% of its roughly 52,500 employees have received at least one dose or have an approved extension or exemption request. This means about 50 employees are not in compliance. 

The Department of Agriculture reports less than 98% of its 75,955 permanent employees are in compliance with the mandate, which means more than 1,500 employees face "counseling and potential more drastic measures," according to The Hill.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Friday on President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine or test mandate affecting healthcare workers and private businesses with more than 100 employees.