On July 16, the Postal Service unilaterally issued a revised face covering policy for employees.
Under the revised policy, fully vaccinated employees are not required to wear face coverings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks or more after they have completed their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States. Employees who have not been fully vaccinated are required to wear face coverings in any situation in which they cannot achieve or maintain social distance—at least six feet and in public facing settings where there is a state or local face covering order or directive in place.
While the policy appears to be consistent with current guidance from the CDC and OSHA, it does not currently contain any mechanism to determine if employees not wearing a face covering are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 related health and safety risks still exist and may be present in any work location for this or other reasons.
NALC urges all members to remain diligent in daily activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The lack of an enforcement mechanism in the revised face covering policy makes it particularly important that the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding Re: Temporary Workplace Changes to Promote Social Distancing – COVID-19 (M-01915) intended to create a work environment that promotes social distancing are implemented to the extent possible in each work location.
NALC members that have a COVID-19 related safety concern in the workplace should notify a shop steward or branch officer and consult with a healthcare professional if he/she believes a health risk is present. As a reminder, most COVID-19 related absences will be covered by Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL), which remains available through September 30, 2021. For more information on EFEL, click here.
NALC representatives at headquarters will continue to discuss, and take any necessary action on, this revised face covering policy and other COVID-19 related issues with USPS representatives. Future updates will be available on www.nalc.org.