Latest coronavirus: Minneapolis Fed to require employees to be vaccinated

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The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will require current and future employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, making it one of the first federal agencies in the United States known to introduce a vaccine mandate.

The bank recently told its 1,100 employees that they needed to be fully immunized by the end of August to continue working there, Neel Kashkari, the bank’s chairman, revealed in a blog post on Wednesday.

The move set the Minneapolis Fed apart from other regional branches of the US central bank, some of which have yet to put such a policy in place. Other ministries have not made vaccination a mandatory prerequisite for continued employment.

The New York Fed said in an emailed statement to the Financial Times that it was “still reviewing our return to office strategy.”

The St. Louis Fed said in an emailed statement that its employees were encouraged to get the vaccine. “[A]t this time, they are not required to show proof of vaccination, ”the bank said, but“ once employees are vaccinated they are required to report it to the bank, ”which allows it to comply to the quarantine guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Housing would only be provided to people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions or strong religious beliefs, Kashkari said, and future hires at the bank would also be subject to the vaccination policy.

Kashkari said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “has confirmed that the law allows an employer to require that all employees entering the workplace be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to protect themselves against the threat it poses to health and safety “.

The Minneapolis Fed’s move comes as public and private employers debate whether to require their employees to be vaccinated. The announcement coincides with concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant, which accounts for more than half of new cases of Covid-19 in the United States, according to CDC forecasts.

The Biden administration has urged all Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19, but also said vaccination should generally not be a prerequisite for federal employees or contractors to work in person.

Like many employers, the Minneapolis Fed switched to remote working last year. Kashkari said the bank was “pleasantly surprised” to find it was able to meet its basic operational needs over the past 16 months, but would now require more face-to-face contact than offers working remotely in order to serve the public.

More than 82% of the bank’s employees are fully immunized, including the management team, Kashkari said. Most of the remaining 18 percent did not disclose their vaccination plans to the bank, and a small percentage indicated that they did not intend to be vaccinated.

The Minneapolis Fed covers Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, several counties in northwestern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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