President Joe Biden’s provision to force federal employees from United States To reveal if they are vaccinated against Covid-19 will likely raise uncomfortable questions in both government agencies and private companies.
For now, clear answers are conspicuous by their absence.
Apply the layout correctly it will take time and it will vary in different organisms. The same will happen in private companies, to which the White House wants to offer guidance.
It’s not like there is a short manual. Nothing of such magnitude had ever been attempted against a virus that mutates in real time and threatens to become a major threat due to the delta variant.
“We created a miracle vaccine in a very short time and there was a lot of reluctance from the government and companies to apply a top-down approach,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“We have reached the point where it is very clear that the individual incentive that people have to protect themselves is not strong enough to protect the country and we see the government take this first step,” he added.
Biden’s plan for federal employees, announced Thursday, does not rise to the level of a direct order to give the injection.
Instead, the employee must attest that they are vaccinated. Although that does not mean showing an immunization record, “to attest” is an expression loaded with meaning in federal agencies, governed by detailed rules and regulations.
it implies consequences for giving false or misleading information. It is not clear how this will be done to enforce the rule, but employees who voluntarily provide valid proof of vaccination will likely avoid challenge.
Periodic tests and chinstraps
The unvaccinated will have to resign themselves to constant testing, possibly weekly the use of the chinstrap and social distancing and will be excluded from official trips. The standard will be similar for federal government contractors.
Constant testing raises other problems. Most people cover the cost with health insurance, but will it still be the case for someone who refuses to get vaccinated and cannot claim a medical or religious exemption?
The use of the chinstrap was always a delicate matter. But how will the obligation to use it be enforced if not everyone has an obligation to be vaccinated?
Will there be inspectors roaming the cubicles with lists of the unvaccinated?
There are many reasons to think that the application of the Biden order in the workplace will cause some stumbling, at least initials.
Government agencies often have their own unique cultures and their missions span the gamut. Doctors at the National Institutes of Health are likely vaccinated, but some security officials may be reluctant to get an injection before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives it approval. definitive.
The largest union of federal workers, the American Federation of Government Employees, has already advised that it expects any change in working conditions to be “duly negotiated with our bargaining units prior to implementation.”
The Pentagon was ordered to study how and when vaccines against Covid-19 will be mandatory for military personnel.
The troops already receive up to 17 vaccines, according to where in the world they are sent.
Vaccination in private companies
Some companies got ahead of Biden: for example, Google says vaccination will be mandatory for its employeesBut the United States Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business organization, maintained that Biden’s measures are “prudent steps to protect public health and our economic recovery.”
For public or private employees, the top questions have to do with proving their immunization status and whether they qualify for exemptions, said Jeff Hyman, author and expert on labor recruitment.
“Will they take the people’s word for it?” He asked. There is no central database of vaccinations.
“What are the exemptions?” He continued. “There must be exemptions for religious and medical reasons and that asterisk will be really important,” he said.
medical or religious reasons
But will a worker who wants a religious exemption need to present a letter from a clergyman?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC, a federal agency) says that the employer must provide a “reasonable acceptance” of religious or medical reasons “that does not pose undue hardship to the operation of the business. of the employer ”.
But companies can require vaccination as a “condition of employment,” according to a recent opinion from the Justice Department.
Biden is taking a risk, Hyman said, but inaction in the face of the surge in cases caused by the aggressive delta variant is not possible.
“It’s super easy to criticize this because only hindsight will let you know if he was right,” Hyman said. “We won’t know for a while if this was the optimal decision, but at least he’s doing something,” he said.
The news that the economy has passed its pre-pandemic level underscores the importance of Biden’s decision.
New outbreaks and quarantines would depress hiring and production and give Republicans new arguments in their bid to regain a legislative majority next year.
The dilemma of protocols
Is also the delicate problem of protocols in the workplace. What will the interaction of the unvaccinated be like with their colleagues who received the injection? Will the work units have to be divided?
Consultant Challenger says his company created a system for everyone to discreetly indicate their willingness to interact while back at the office: green, yellow and red wristbands.
Green means that one agrees to return to the previous situation. Red tells the other to respect the two meter distance. Yellow is an intermediate situation, in which one accepts a cordial relationship, but with some reluctance.
“The situation is so novel that we do not have many antecedents to guide us,” he acknowledged.