By Monday next week, GovGuam executive branch employees either will have to show proof of at least one vaccine shot, or submit to weekly coronavirus testing. For non-Department of Education classified employees, you face progressive discipline that ends with your termination for non-compliance. For unclassified employees, your employer doesn’t even have to give you a reason; you can be terminated at any time, for any reason.
For DOE employees, whether you’ll face any discipline has yet to be decided.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, who controls the fate of most of the employees of the executive branch (sans DOE, the autonomous utilities, and the two colleges), means business. She had her director of administration, Ed Birn, issue a 26-page circular that reads as a manual explaining how supervisors and managers within the executive agencies are to lay the groundwork for firing non-compliant employees.
The circular is instructive:
“Departments shall specifically instruct employees who have declined to be vaccinated, or have not provided proof of vaccination to report for testing at these Government of Guam Employee only testing sites. No substitution of testing sites is allowed. Supervisors shall work with their employees to identify the earliest date during the week of September 27, 2021 that their employees will report to testing. Supervisors will specifically instruct their employees as the date, time and location of the site they are to report for testing; then thereafter follow a specified schedule once weekly.
“Supervisors shall use the attached Government of Guam Employee Report to COVID-19 Testing form to schedule their employee for testing. Employees shall bring their form to the testing site and request the COVID-19 Testing Official to complete the form as proof of being tested, and submit their completed form to their supervisor. The supervisor in turn shall forward the form to their Vaccination Status Coordinator who shall update any relevant information for their weekly reports.” – excerpt from DOA Circular 2021-025A
The circular commands supervisors and managers through the ifs, ands, and buts of unvaccinated GovGuam employees navigating through the weekly testing option. If these employees do not follow the protocols in the circular (provided below), then their supervisors must determine the non-compliant employee’s behavior to be inexcusable, and must begin the disciplinary process.
“For classified permanent employees who do not fully vaccinate, or show proof of being vaccinated, these employees must submit to, and be tested once weekly beginning September 27, 2021 as per Executive Order 2021-17, unless exempted from such requirements. For employees that do not submit to, and be tested once weekly, or if they do, they do not do so on a consistent basis, AND the Department has determined that the employees’ reason(s) are inexcusable, Departments must follow progressive discipline, and exclude them from the workplace and charge them charged annual leave, until they report to their rescheduled test. If annual leave is exhausted, the department shall place the employee on Leave Without Pay (LWOP) status, until they report to their rescheduled test. As in the case of progressive discipline, supervisors are to document all information related to the event where due to an inexcusable reason, their employee did not submit to, and get tested to meet their once weekly requirement.”
The circular contains a “Guide to Taking Adverse Action,” that is a template for supervisors to use to terminate non-compliant employees in an efficient and legal way.
As for unclassified employees, the circular makes it clear that directors need no reason to fire them; they serve at the pleasure of the governor and have no employment rights.
DOE employees may not face such harsh treatment
Kandit asked GDOE superintendent Jon Fernandez whether whether unvaccinated GDOE employees who refuse to submit to weekly testing will be 1) forbidden from campus, 2) progressively disciplined for absence, and 3) terminated by a certain number of absences?
FERNANDEZ: The executive order requires employees to choose between full vaccination or weekly testing. Alternatively, employees can seek an exemption from the requirements. Right now, we are focused on ensuring employees are aware of their choices, facilitating opportunities for them to vaccinate, setting up a weekly testing process, and monitoring compliance. We should have a full accounting at the end of the month. At that point, we will determine how to proceed.
KANDIT: What will happen to employees who choose none of those options?
FERNANDEZ: We are hopeful that employees will find an available option that works for them, including vaccination, weekly testing, or an approved exemption.
Read the DOA circular below: