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Nov 18, 2021

FAQs updated for federal contractor vaccine mandate

Affirmative ActionCOVID-19Safety and Health 

On November 10, 2021, revised versions of the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors and accompanying contractor FAQs were posted on the Safer Federal Workforce website. The new guidance incorporates the current deadline for covered contractor employees to receive their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine: January 4, 2022, instead of the original deadline of December 8, 2021. The revisions to the FAQs are as follows.

Sample signs for COVID-19 safety protocols available: Federal contractors must post signs at covered contractor workplaces explaining the protocols for wearing masks and physically distancing, which depend on vaccination status as well as levels of community transmission of the virus. Sample signs are now available. The sample signs for areas of high or substantial levels of community transmission instruct everyone to wear masks and people who aren’t fully vaccinated to keep at least 6 feet apart from others. The sample signs for areas of low or moderate levels of community transmission instruct people who aren’t fully vaccinated to wear masks and keep at least 6 feet apart from others.

Updated guidance on CDC recommendations to delay vaccinations: The FAQs were updated to reflect more recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on situations in which it recommends delaying COVID-19 vaccination for medical reasons. Once those clinical considerations are resolved, you must promptly require full vaccination if the individual is a covered contractor employee (an employee who works on or in connection with a covered federal contract or who works at a covered contractor workplace).

Guidance applies regardless of where work is performed: The safety protocols in the guidance apply to all covered contractor employees and to all covered contractor workplaces. If an employee works only at a federal workplace, the same rules apply. In other words, they must receive their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine no later than January 4, 2022, so they’re fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022. Federal agencies may require additional protocols for work at a federal facility. (However, as we previously reported, covered contractor employees who work from home are subject to the vaccine mandate but don’t have to comply with any mask or physical distancing requirements at home.)

Tips: The Biden administration extended the deadline for the federal contractor vaccine mandate to align with the deadline in federal OSHA’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for employers with 100 or more employees. As we reported in a recent Alert, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has prohibited OSHA from implementing or enforcing the ETS until its legality can be resolved in the courts. In contrast, the federal contractor vaccine mandate is still on course, although that could change depending on separate legal challenges to the mandate. The federal contractor guidance (which we originally reported here) and FAQs (which we reported here) implement Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, issued by President Biden on September 9, 2021. Vigilant will keep members informed of any changes in the federal contractor vaccine mandate.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.