Postal Service Updating COVID-19 items
We all know that COVID is not over. We also know that the CDC has drastically changed their guidelines—not necessarily for the better. Based on the CDC guidance that businesses no longer need to do close contact tracing, the Postal Service has decided to change their decision tree and turn over the close contact tracing to public health officials. I do not agree that this is in the best interest of Postal Employees.
In my opinion the changing of the Decision Tree was to avoid any payment of administrative leave by turning over an isolation or quarantine decisions to public health officials. This way the Postal Service can now make the claim it was not them who put anyone off work. The CDC has greatly reduced when isolation/quarantine is even necessary based symptoms, vaccination status, and the expectation that exposed people will wear well-fitting masks. However, it is the opinion of the APWU that if an employee is exposed to COVID-19 at work and told to isolate by a public health official, administrative leave should be granted. If any such employee, then tests positive for COVID-19 they need and should file an OWCP claim.
Additionally, the Postal Service has put us on notice that they plan on reviewing all social distancing protocols (i.e., PASS machine layout, etc.) and possibly discontinue them. Again, the APWU disagrees with discontinuing any protocol that could lead to the spread of any contagion. The Postal Service has said we will be provided proposed changes in advance and have an opportunity to review them and give input on the changes. I put little faith in the Postal Service doing this in a manner that actually takes the safety and health of Postal Workers into consideration. At the time this email was written, no proposed changes had been provided to the APWU.
Remember, any postal employee who contracts COVID-19 may apply for OWCP benefits and be paid Continuation of Pay. The employee will need to provide positive PCR test results or evidence of COVID-19 positivity another way that is supported by medical documentation from their doctor. If they have worked at the Postal Service within 21-days of contracting COVID-19, the OWCP claim will more than likely be approved.
These eased processes for applying for COVID-19 OWCP benefits remain in effect through January 27, 2023. However, the APWU Legislative Department in conjunction with the other Postal Unions, is actively working the halls of Congress to have these benefits extended.
COVID is not over. The APWU still encourages all employees to do the simple things that help prevent the spread of COVID or other illnesses:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Wear masks at work, when in public, and at union events
- STAY HOME WHEN SICK
- Get vaccinated when able and when recommend by your medical practitioner.
The updated Decision Tree is attached and we will update you if any other COVID protocols are altered.
You may share with the field.
Thank you and remember—stay safe, wear your mask!