U.S. government employees should not be required to receive a Covid-19 vaccine before returning to the office or disclosing their vaccination status, according to guidelines to be released by the Biden administration on Thursday.
Workers can voluntarily disclose this information, and federal agencies should base their reopening plans, in part, on the number of employees vaccinated, according to the guidelines.
In a 20-page memo viewed by Reuters, the acting heads of three agencies that oversee the federal workforce also urged agencies to consider more flexible arrangements for some employees, including permanent remote working on time. part-time and work outside normal working hours.
The advice comes as many U.S. government workers who worked remotely during the pandemic prepare to return to their offices.
The federal government employs over 4 million people, making it the largest employer in the United States. Almost 60% of federal employees worked remotely during the pandemic, up from about 3% previously, according to Thursday’s note.
The guidelines require agencies to submit detailed return-to-work proposals, including office occupancy limits, return dates, and face mask and social distancing requirements, by next week and adopt final plans by July 19.
The note is signed by the acting heads of the Bureau of Management and Budget, the Bureau of Personnel Management and General Service Administration.
“The potential post-pandemic state of functioning of agencies may differ significantly from (their) state of functioning before the pandemic,” the officials wrote in the note.
That could mean detaching some workers from physical offices, which would allow agencies to recruit nationally and share offices while reducing the time employees spend traveling, they said.
Officials have warned that agencies may need to negotiate with unions before implementing certain policies, such as changes to work schedules and safety protocols. About 30 percent of federal workers are represented by unions.