CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – President Biden announced that federal workers will be required to prove they’ve been vaccinated or comply with new health rules.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Justice Department issued guidance saying employers could mandate vaccinations for in-person workers. Biden says people who work for the federal government must sign forms saying they’ve been vaccinated or do mandatory masking, weekly or bi-weekly testing, and social distancing.
There are roughly four million of federal workers Biden says he hopes this move boosts vaccination rates among them. The mandate would also apply for visitors to federal buildings, such as the Federal Courthouse in Springfield. But some federal unions say the mandate must be bargained with them first.
“It is legal. In fact we see not just in terms of federal and state employees but we’ve seen so many universities and colleges require that of their employees that if they’re not vaccinated they may be subject to having a mask at all times.” James Winston, ESQ, James B. Winston Law
HIPAA does not actually prevent your employer from asking your vaccination status, it only prevents medical professional from sharing your personal medical information. So federal employers can require you to sign something saying if you’ve been vaccinated or not.
Legal experts say the ruling will likely stay as long as employers provide reasonable exemptions, such as for religious or medical reasons. The vaccine mandate would not apply to members of the military but Biden has asked the Department of Defense to consider adding the COVID vaccine to the list of required vaccinations.