26 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Court reinstates vaccine mandate

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The United States Government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the Federal Public Service has been upheld by a Federal Appeals Court, overturning a lower court’s nationwide pause that had been in effect since January.

The plaintiffs who brought their suit over President Joe Biden’s Executive Order did not have standing in the Federal Circuit, the judges said in a 2-1 opinion.

As a result, the court vacated the injunction against the mandate and instructed the District Court in Texas that issued it to dismiss the case.

At the time the injunction was issued, 93 per cent of Federal employees were vaccinated.

With some exceptions, Agencies have since paused punishing non-compliant workers or adjudicating requests for religious or medical exemptions.

A spokesperson from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said the court’s decision was good news.

“Based on the prior implementation of the requirement for the largest and most occupationally diverse workforce in the country, we know vaccination requirements save lives, protect our workforce, and strengthen our ability to serve the American people,” the spokesperson said.

The decision will likely cause a new wave of work for Federal Agencies, though it could also save them some money.

The Administration said the injunction had left Agencies scrambling to overhaul their return-to-office plans, as they were designed assuming enforcement of the mandate.

Additionally, the White House estimated there was spending of up to an extra $US5 million ($A6.7 million) per week while the injunction was in place on testing unvaccinated employees for the virus.

The Administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force will now oversee the reimplementation of the mandate.

Washington, 10 April 2022

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