Deadline Fast Approaching for Compliance with Vaccination Mandate for Federal Contractors

Authors: 

Allison Dodd, Partner
adodd@messner.com

Jean Peterson, Associate
jpeterson@messner.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order requiring a majority of federal contractors to mandate that their employees are fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021, or the first day of performance of any new covered contract, option or extended or renewed contract.[1] The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued guidance on the topic on September 24, 2021. While the guidance includes some limited exceptions to the vaccine mandate, including granting of an accommodation in very specific circumstances, determining whether an accommodation is appropriate may be challenging. The vaccination mandate also applies to remote workers who directly or indirectly support covered contracts, which likely results in the mandate extending to all employees. 

The Executive Order also requires federal contractors to collect and maintain documentation confirming employees’ fully vaccinated status and to provide the federal government with employee vaccination documentation when requested. Acceptable forms of documentation include: a copy of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a copy of the immunization record from a medical professional or pharmacy, a copy of medical records confirming vaccination, or a copy of an immunization records from a public health agency.

When preparing contracts, it is critically important to be aware that the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (“FAR”) Council developed a vaccine mandate clause that must be included in any new contracts, contract-like instruments, contract options, and extensions or renewals of existing contracts. As of November 14, 2021, this clause must be included in all covered contracts.

All employees or visitors to a federal contractor workplace must comply with CDC masking and social distancing guidelines as outlined in the Task Force’s guidance. Visitors do not need to provide proof of vaccination status, but federal contractors must ensure that all visitors comply with CDC guidelines, including posting signage outlining required safety protocols. To that end, the Executive Order requires federal contractors to designate a workspace safety coordinator to ensure employees are complying with the vaccination mandate and CDC masking and social distancing guidelines.

Four main takeaways for federal contractors:

1) Require proof of fully vaccinated status of all federal contractor employees who directly or indirectly support covered contracts (excepted where the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation);

2) Comply with the Task Force’s guidance regarding masking and physical distancing while in covered contractor workspaces (includes visitors and employees);

3) Designate person(s) to coordinate COVID-19 workspace safety efforts and track vaccination status of employees;

4) Ensure the FAR clause is included covered contracts.

As these new requirements come into full effect, we anticipate additional guidance to be issued clarifying and expanding on the Executive Order. If you have additional questions on how to navigate these complex requirements, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

This article is intended to provide you with general information regarding the Vaccination Mandate for Federal Contractors. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this article or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact Attorney Allison Dodd or another attorney from the Messner Reeves team.


[1] Of note, a covered contractor is a prime contractor or subcontractor at any tier who is party to a covered contract. A “covered contract” is any contract or contract-like instrument that is defined by Section 5(a) of EO 14042. Covered contracts do not include contracts, subcontracts or grants at or below the simplified acquisition threshold of $250,000; however, agencies are strongly encouraged to apply the vaccine mandate to all contracts or grants regardless of amount. See Guidance, page 5.

 

 

 

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