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Unvaccinated Federal Workers to Get Unpaid Leave, Pink Slips (1)

Oct. 1, 2021, 1:32 PMUpdated: Oct. 1, 2021, 2:38 PM

Federal workers will have to prove they’re vaccinated by Nov. 8 or face unpaid suspension followed by termination, according to new guidance for President Joe Biden‘s Covid-19 directive for the federal workforce.

The guidance, published by the Office of Personnel Management on Friday, encourages agencies to collect vaccine cards from their workers. Enforcement of Biden’s federal vaccination requirements is to begin Nov. 9.

Employees who haven’t received their final dose of a one- or two-shot vaccine by then should be given a five-day grace period to start their vaccination process, the guidance said. Workers who fail to receive a shot by that point should generally face suspension without pay of up to 14 days, followed by termination. All new hires must be fully vaccinated, the guidance said.

The instructions mark the latest step in the president’s push to increase vaccination rates nationwide. Roughly 2.1 million civilians work for the federal government. More than 80% work outside the Washington, D.C., region, according to a 2020 report.

The president announced in early September that federal employees, plus people who work for government contractors, must get vaccinated. OPM’s announcement provides a template for how agencies should enforce Biden’s order, allowing agency leaders room to make adjustments depending on the nature of the work.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many federal employees could face discipline, as OPM hasn’t collected statistics on how many are vaccinated.

The Biden administration said last week that contractor workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.

(Adds detail about discipline steps, contractor workers, and new employees.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at