COVID-19 Vaccine Guidelines for Federal Contractors | Burr & Forman
On September 24, 2021, the Federal Workforce Safety Task Force released guidelines detailing COVID-19 vaccination and other pandemic-related workplace safety requirements for federal contractors, in accordance with the executive decree issued by President Biden on September 9, 2021. The executive decree itself roughly described which contractors were covered by the mandate and discussed the implementation process, but contained few specific details on the requirements. The guidance released today responds to many questions raised by federal contractors about the requirements, but we expect additional information to be released by the task force in the coming weeks.
What does orientation require?
Covered federal contractors are required to ensure that all employees of covered full-time or part-time contractors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless the employee is legally entitled to housing. As noted below, the guidelines also require masking and physical distancing in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines at the workplaces of covered contractors. A covered subcontractor workplace is a location that the subcontractor controls where an employee of a covered subcontractor is likely to be present at any time during the performance period.
Which federal contractors must comply with the mandate?
Federal contractors covered are those whose contract wording requires adherence to guidelines. Agencies will be required to incorporate this wording in renewals, extensions or options exercised on existing contracts, as well as in new solicitations and contracts issued, which exceed the simplified vesting threshold (currently $ 250,000) by October 15, 2021. Although not required, it is likely that the government will encourage changes to long-term contracts to include the new clause.
If I am the prime contractor, do I have any specific obligations?
Yes, contractors must ensure that compliance clauses are included in their contracts with subcontractors except those who only supply products.
I am a small business. Do I still have to comply?
Yes, all covered federal contractors and subcontractors must comply, regardless of the size of the business.
What is the deadline for compliance?
For federal contractors covered with active contracts, employees must be fully immunized by December 8, 2021.
For covered federal contractors who have been awarded new contracts (or options, renewals or extensions), employees must be fully immunized prior to the first day of performance under the new contract, option, renewal or extension. extension.
Are there any exceptions to this deadline?
If a federal agency has an urgent need for work to be done without time to completely vaccinate the contractor’s employees, then a federal contractor can seek approval of an exception. This exception will allow work to begin, but federal contractors will be required to comply with vaccine mandates within 60 days. During the 60-day exception period, unvaccinated employees must comply with masking and physical distancing requirements.
Does the mandate apply to all employees of the federal contractor?
Employees who work from home should be fully immunized, but should not comply with the masking or physical distancing requirements described below. Employees who work outdoors should also be vaccinated.
However, the mandate does not apply to employees who work outside of the United States or its outlying areas.
Should we check employee vaccination documents?
Yes, covered federal contractors must review employee documentation to prove vaccination status.
What verification documents are acceptable?
Covered federal contractors must require employees to provide one of the following documents:
- a copy of the immunization record from a health care provider or pharmacy;
- a copy of the employee’s COVID-19 vaccination record;
- a copy of immunization records from a government public health or immunization information system; Where
- a copy of any other official document attesting to the vaccination which includes all of the following information:
- vaccine name
- date (s) of administration;
- name of the health care professional or clinic site that administered the vaccine.
Employers can accept digital copies of these records. For example, photographs, scanned documents or PDF files are acceptable forms of proof.
What should a government contractor do if an employee has lost or does not have a copy of the required documentation?
Employees should be encouraged to obtain new copies or a verification of their immunization status. Employees should be able to obtain new copies of their immunization card from their immunization provider. If the immunization provider is no longer functioning, employees can contact their state’s immunization information system (IIS) or local health department for assistance.
Can we accept a recent antibody test from an employee to prove their immunization status?
No. Only the vaccination documents listed above can be accepted.
If an employee has had COVID-19 in the past, does he still need to be vaccinated?
Yes, employees should be vaccinated regardless of previous infection.
Should we still offer accommodation to unvaccinated people?
Yes, covered federal contractors will still need to accommodate employees with intimate religious beliefs or ADA-eligible disabilities that prevent their ability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Accommodations should also be made available to employees who cannot wear masks due to an ADA-eligible disability or intimate religious belief.
If there is a joint employment situation between the Covered Federal Contractor and the Agency, the Contractor must coordinate with the contracting officer or contracting officer representative to accommodate the individual.
Do covered federal contractors still have to apply other measures such as masking or social distancing?
Yes, there are different requirements depending on the site location. The rules state that covered contractors must ensure that all individuals and visitors (regardless of immunization status) comply with published CDC guidelines for workplace masking in areas of high or substantial community transmission. In areas with low or moderate community transmission, fully immunized people do not need to wear masks.
Fully immunized people do not need to practice social distancing, regardless of the level of community transmission.
People who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor environments or outdoor environments that require close and sustained contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated, regardless of the level. community transmission. These people should also maintain social distancing when possible.
When masks are required, the rules require that the masks be worn over the nose and mouth.
How do I know the transmission levels on my site?
The CDC website provides this information to https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/ # county- view.
Are there any exceptions to the masking requirements?
Yes, masks will not be required if a person who is not fully vaccinated is alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls and a closed door, for brief periods when a person eats or drinks while a person is physical distance of at least 6 feet is maintained, or if the person obtains accommodation because of an ADA-eligible disability or sincere religious belief.
Covered Federal Contractors may also allow exceptions for employees who engage in activities in which masks may get wet, during high-intensity activities or where wearing a mask would create a risk to health or safety. or work-to-work as determined by a workplace risk assessment. These exceptions must be approved in writing by an authorized representative of the Federal Covered Contractor.
Additionally, people may be asked to lower their masks for security identification purposes.
What is a workplace risk assessment?
OSHA has described workplace risk assessments and how to submit to such assessments on its website at https://www.osha.gov/safety-management.
How are covered federal contractors supposed to ensure compliance?
Covered Federal Contractors must designate an individual (s) to coordinate the implementation and compliance with guidelines and other relevant security protocols (such as masking). These people are responsible for ensuring that mask and social distancing requirements are met and for obtaining vaccination documents. In addition, these individuals must ensure that this information is presented to covered employees (explained below).
Are there any notice requirements?
Yes, Federal Covered Contractors must post signs at entrances to covered workplaces that provide information on safety protocols. These protocols should define requirements for vaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals, including masking or social distancing requirements.
The designated person is responsible for sharing the necessary information. In addition to postings at entrances, information may be presented through email, websites, memos, flyers, job site postings, or other means.
Do covered federal contractors have to provide on-site vaccinations?
Although federal contractors can choose to provide vaccinations on-site, the guidelines do not require it. At a minimum, covered federal contractors should ensure that employees are aware of practical vaccination opportunities.
The full version of the working group’s guidance document can be viewed here.