New guidelines for federal contractors’ COVID-19 protocols

Companies that enter into new contracts with the federal government or agree to let the federal government exercise an option or extend an existing contract may be subject to new vaccine requirements from federal contractors.

Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, prescribes COVID-19 vaccines for federal contractors and subcontractors and guarantees other workplace safety protocols for those employees of these contractors. . The White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has released guidelines covering COVID-19 vaccine, mask and social distancing requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors and released new FAQs that provide additional detail on these guidelines.

Federal agencies must incorporate COVID-19 security requirements into existing contracts awarded before October 15, 2021 when an option is exercised or an extension is made, and into new contracts awarded on or after November 14, 2021. contracts and solicitations issued between October November 15-14, federal agencies must include requirements in solicitations and are encouraged to include the requirements in contracts awarded during this period. However, companies that are not subject to these federal contractors’ COVID-19 safety requirements may still be subject to the OSHA or CMS vaccine mandate rules.

Employees of covered contractors must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination by January 18, 2022.

Covered contracts

The guidelines apply to:

  • Contracts for services, construction or leasehold interest on a property

  • Services covered by the law on service contracts

  • Concession contracts under the law on service contracts

  • Construction supply contracts covered by the Davis Bacon Act

  • Contracts relating to federal property or land providing services to federal employees, their dependents or the general public

The guidelines exclude grants, contracts or contractual-type instruments with Indian tribes, contracts with a value equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $ 250,000), employees performing work outside the States -United and subcontracts only for the supply of products. The guidelines strongly encourage agencies to incorporate a clause requiring adherence to the guidelines in contracts that are not covered.

Vaccination requirements

All employees of covered contractors and subcontractors must be fully immunized, unless the employee is legally entitled to accommodation for a disability or sincere religious belief. The vaccination obligation applies to full-time and part-time employees working remotely on or under a covered contract. Employees of covered contractors must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination by January 18, 2022, so employees must receive the last dose by January 4 to meet the deadline. After January 18, covered employees must be fully immunized by the first day of the execution period of a newly awarded covered contract, exercised option, or extended or renewed contract. (This January deadline is a recent change. It replaces the original December deadline and is now the deadline set by OSHA and CMS.)

To prove their immunization status, Covered Entrepreneurs must require their employees to show or provide one of the following documents (or a hard or digital copy such as a photograph, scanned image, or PDF):

  • Immunization record from a health care provider or pharmacy

  • The COVID-19 vaccination card

  • Medical records documenting vaccination

  • Immunization records from a public health or state immunization information system

  • Any other official document attesting to the vaccination with information on the name of the vaccine, the date (s) of administration and the name of the healthcare professional or clinic administering the vaccine

Additional requirements

In areas of high or substantial transmission, fully immunized individuals should wear a mask in indoor public places (although they may briefly lower their masks for identification purposes to comply with safety and security requirements). In areas of low or moderate transmission, fully vaccinated people generally do not need to wear a mask or physical distancing in federal buildings or on federal lands, unless federal, state, state, federal laws, rules, or regulations. local, tribal or territorial decide otherwise. The Safer Federal Workforce also suggests following CDC guidelines for mask wearing and physical distancing in specific settings such as healthcare, transportation, correctional and detention facilities, and schools. Prior to being subject to a contractual obligation to be vaccinated, contractors must provide on-site contractor’s employees with the vaccination certification form when entering a federal building or federally controlled job site. Employees of on-site contractors who are not fully vaccinated, federal employees, and visitors (or those who refuse to provide information about their vaccination status) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test no later than within three days before when they are in a federal building or site under federal control. In addition, those people who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask and physically distance themselves in federal buildings and on federal lands.

Contractors must post signs providing information on safety protocols for fully vaccinated and non-fully vaccinated visitors and must also designate someone to coordinate COVID-19 workplace safety efforts. To help determine the appropriate safety protocols, covered contractors should check the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker County View website at least once a week to collect information on community transmission in all areas where a site is located. contractor’s work covered. Covered contractors must not reduce security protocols in a particular area until the level of community transmission in the area remains below a substantial level for at least two consecutive weeks. A “covered contractor workplace” is defined as “a location controlled by a covered contractor where any employee of a covered contractor working on or in connection with a covered contract is likely to be present during the performance period of a covered contract. The entire building in which an employee of the Covered Contractor works is considered a “Covered Contractor’s workplace” – unless the Contractor can prove that none of its employees in another area of ​​the building will not come into contact with an employee of the Covered Contractor during the performance of a Contract.

Address non-compliant employees

The guidelines recommend that federal contractors first follow their usual processes for enforcing workplace policies, including those discussed in employee manuals or collective agreements. The FAQs suggest that federal contractors encourage employees to comply by offering counseling and education, followed by further disciplinary action if necessary, and only after continued non-compliance if employers fire an employee. Employers should not put employees on administrative leave while the agency takes adverse action against those who refuse to be vaccinated, but should follow safety protocols for employees not fully vaccinated when they show up on the premises. agency work, in accordance with the FAQ.

Timeline and next steps

Federal agencies must include a clause incorporating COVID-19 security requirements in solicitations and service contracts as follows:

  • In existing contracts awarded before October 15, 2021, agencies must incorporate the requirements at the time an option is exercised or an extension is made.

  • In new contracts awarded as of November 14, 2021, agencies must incorporate the requirements.

  • For contracts and solicitations issued between October 15, 2021 and November 14, 2021, agencies must include the requirements in the solicitations and are encouraged (but not mandatory) to include the requirements in contracts awarded during this period.

Contractors with a federal contract or a subcontract incorporating the requirements must pass the requirements on to the next lower level subcontractors. Employees of covered contractors must provide proof of complete vaccination by January 18, 2022. After this date, employees of covered contractors must be fully vaccinated by the first day of the run period of a newly awarded covered contract, an exercised option or an extended or renewed contract. when the clause has been incorporated into the covered contract.

The directives of the Presidential Decree govern any contrary statute or ordinance of a state or local. States or municipalities can, however, implement more protective workplace safety measures.

Several lawsuits have been filed in federal court seeking to overturn the decree and guidelines. So far, a district court judge has blocked the entry into force of the vaccination mandate for federal contractors in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. As of the date of publication of this article, the mandate remains in effect in all other states.

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