Fedweek

Los Angeles, Feb 2021: Motorists wait in line for Covid-19 vaccines at a joint state and federal vaccination site on the campus of California State University.

Federal agencies have been told that they “should offer” administrative leave to their employees of up to four hours for each of the two inoculations against the Coronavirus.

Agencies also should “recognize that some employees may face extenuating circumstances warranting additional administrative leave as appropriate” – such as a need to travel long distance, new guidance on the Biden administration’s federal workplace safety order says.

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“Teleworking employees should normally obtain advance approval from their supervisor before being permitted to use administrative leave for COVID-19 vaccination purposes. Employees may not be credited with administrative leave or overtime work for time spent getting a vaccination outside their tour of duty,” it adds.

The guidance essentially grants the request from some members of Congress to allow paid time off from work for getting vaccinated, on grounds that it is in the agency’s interest.

The guidance says that agencies still have the flexibility to grant paid “weather and safety leave” where allowing an employee to travel to or perform work at the normal worksite would pose significant safety risks for the employee, other employees, or the general public. However, it says that weather and safety leave should not be granted if an employee is capable of teleworking or when sick leave is appropriate, including if an employee is ill with covid-19.

Further, weather and safety leave or other administrative leave should be granted if an employee is required to quarantine because of official travel. However, if quarantine is required because of personal travel and the employee is otherwise expected to be present onsite, the employee may take personal leave while quarantining.

An employee subject to a quarantine order because of personal travel but who refuses to quarantine may be barred from the workplace, it adds, and may be put on administrative leave for a short time while the agency determines the proper leave status.

If an employee is subject to isolation due to being infected and is unable to telework, the employee may request sick leave, annual leave or other forms of paid or unpaid leave; weather and safety leave would not be payable.

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook