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D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine will require vaccinations for all of his employees returning to the office, according to a new policy announced to staff yesterday. Employees of the Office of the Attorney General will begin returning to work in person in phases starting Sept. 13. The new policy requires employees, contractors, and interns to report their vaccination status by Aug. 13 and show proof of full vaccination by Aug. 3o. Proof of full vaccination earns employees eight hours of paid time off.
The policy allows exemptions for “religious, medical, or emergency use.” Those who qualify must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of the date they return to work and are required to take a test once every week.
OAG employees required to return to work in-person but who don’t report their vaccination status or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test could be put on unpaid leave for up to 30 days and eventually fired.
An OAG spokesperson says the office is working to provide ample notice to employees, including how to submit exemption requests.
“We want to avoid disciplining employees, and such action would be a last resort, and only after OAG follows existing personnel procedures so employees have an opportunity to be heard,” the spokesperson says in an email.
Employees are also required to wear masks unless they’re alone in an office with the door closed, according to the policy.
Racine’s new policy goes further than Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s guidance for her employees working in-person. The D.C. Office of Human Resources “encourages” employees to get vaccinated and provides “no more than two hours of administrative leave” to get the shot(s).
An OAG spokesperson explains in an email that Racine’s decision comes after several months of office-wide surveys, conversations with employee unions, and listening sessions with staff.
“At OAG, protecting our employees – especially as they start to come back to work – is paramount,” Racine says in an emailed statement. “Each of us must do our part to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19. With OAG’s back-to-work and vaccination policy, we’re taking action to help reduce risk to and improve the safety of those who come into the office in-person, as well as the residents our employees interact with and serve.”
This story was updated with additional comment from the OAG.