According to a memo, federal workers will not have to follow the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for another six weeks, meaning that millions are workers are “safe” for the Christmas holidays.
The change has not yet been publicly announced, but it comes as Biden is putting pressure on private businesses to implement their own vaccine mandates.
The extension was quietly announced by the White House’s Office Management and Budget in a memo obtained by ABC News. It stated that federal agencies should hold off suspending or firing federal workers who do not comply with the jab mandate until after the festive season.
According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 92% of federal workers have already had at least one dose of the vaccine. The federal worker’s compliance rate allegedly stands at 96.%, which means that employees have had at least one dose of the jab or have a pending approval or approved exception or extension request.
About 4.5% – more than 157,000 people – have sought exemptions or were already exempt, and around 3.5% have not shown a record of vaccination or sought an exemption.
A spokesman for the OMB told CNN: “Nothing has changed with respect to our deadline or our approach to the federal employee vaccination requirement. The deadline was November 22, and we already have 96.5% compliance across a diverse workforce that is the largest in the United States. This is incredible progress and should serve as an example to employers across the board that vaccination requirements work.
“We’ve also said the deadline is not a cliff and that our goal is to protect workers, not penalize anyone. That’s why we’ve encouraged agencies to continue the education and counselling period in December for the small number of employees not already in compliance and delay most suspensions and removals until the new year. We’re seeing a strong increase in compliance and believe this is the best approach to vaccinate more employees,” the spokesman added.
After Christmas it is expected the vaccine mandate will be put in place, meaning many workers will either be suspended until they get vaccinated, or lose their jobs.
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