Fri, 06 Aug 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: New guidelines indicate that U.S. government employees will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to their work. They will also not be required to disclose their vaccination status.

In a 20-page memo prepared by the heads of three agencies that oversee the federal workforce, they urged U.S. agencies to allow for more flexible work arrangements for some employees, including permanent part-time remote work and working outside of normal business hours.

The guidance was issued as U.S. government employees are preparing to return to their offices.

The federal government is the largest employer in the United States, employing more than 4 million people.

Officials said nearly 60 percent of federal employees worked remotely during the pandemic, up from about 3 percent prior to the pandemic.

The memo was signed by the acting heads of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration.

"This moment in time provides a unique opportunity to look at the federal government's role as a model employer, as we strive to implement consistent yet flexible government-wide practices that will foster effective, equitable, and inclusive work environments," said Jason Miller, deputy director for management at OMB.

The officials also said that agencies' "eventual post-pandemic operating state may differ in significant ways from (their) pre-pandemic operating state."

The officials added that agencies may also have to negotiate with unions before carrying out certain policies, including changes to work schedules and safety protocols.

About 30 percent of federal workers are represented by unions.

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