U.S. Postal Service warns vaccine rules could affect deliveries

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Postal Service raised concerns on Wednesday that the Biden administration’s new rules requiring large employers to require vaccinations or weekly COVID-19 testing could result in “high levels of absenteeism” and affect deliveries.

Last week, the Labor Department issued rules https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/bidens-vaccine-mandate-be-enforced-after-new-year-offering-us-companies-relief-2021-11-04 that require businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate weekly testing or vaccines by Jan. 4. The rules also require that employers ensure unvaccinated employees working in-person must wearing masks by Dec. 5.

The 644,000-employee USPS said in a financial filing that complying with the new vaccine and testing rules known as an Emergency Temporary Standard, or ETS, “will be extremely challenging to implement and administer during the height of our peak season, particularly given its expedited schedule.”

Compliance, the USPS warned, “could result in labor challenges and high levels of absenteeism.” Some employees could opt to leave, which “could cause significant business disruptions, and could adversely impact service performance and result in lower mail volume and revenue.”

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is weighing whether to lift an order issued on Saturday that froze the rule during litigation. The government has been sued by private employers, religious organizations and states including Texas for allegedly exceeding its authority to issue the vaccine rule.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said on Wednesday the Postal Service was reviewing the ETS. “We continue to take measures to protect the health and safety of our Postal workers,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s administration estimates the rules will affect about 84 million workers.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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