Fedweek

The Biden administration’s recently announced Coronavirus vaccination requirements for larger companies would apply to the Postal Service, officials have said, creating rules falling between the administration’s original “attestation” policy and the mandate applying to federal employees outside USPS.

The policy announced late last week requires companies with 100 or more employees to require that employees either be fully vaccinated or be subject to mask-wearing requirements and weekly testing when working onsite by January 4. The administration has said that further guidance is upcoming on the policy, which was issued under an emergency OSHA authority, and its application at the USPS.

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Numerous lawsuits have been filed, with one already resulting in a temporary court order against it. However, because the two were issued under different authorities, that ruling had no impact on the general vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Because of its semi-corporate status, the Postal Service has set Coronavirus safety protocols for itself separate from those applying to federal employees in general; it was not included in the general mandate for federal employees.

Like the new policy issued by OSHA that would apply to the Postal Service, the administration’s original “attestation” policy—which was replaced just as agencies were starting to implement by the mandate due to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections—had called for testing weekly or more often, along with other safety protocols, for employees who disclosed they were unvaccinated or who refused to answer.

Under the attestation policy, the agency would have paid for the costs of those tests, as well as paid leave for the time spent getting the tests. Under the OSHA policy, employees would have to pay the cost of the tests; also, there is no requirement for paid leave to take tests although employers would be required to provide paid leave for getting vaccinations during working hours.

Because the OSHA policy allows employees to remain unvaccinated without disciplinary consequences—although subject to tighter safety requirements—there has been no mention of exceptions to that policy for religious or medical reasons. Under the mandate for federal employees, those receiving exceptions for such reasons are to be subject to the same type of stricter safety protocols while onsite.

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