On September 9, 2021, President Biden proposed his “Path Out of the Pandemic” Plan. The 6-prong plan focuses efforts in the following areas:
- Increasing number of vaccinated individuals
- Vaccination boosters
- Increasing testing and masking requirements
- Economic recovery
- Care for infected individuals
Employers need to pay particular attention to prongs 1 and 4, as these include special requirements for the workplace.
Prong 1: Vaccinations
Biden’s plan directs the DOL Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to publish a Temporary Emergency Standard and forthcoming regulations that will require employers with 100+ employees to implement a workplace vaccine mandate, or, in the alternative, to require weekly testing. As always, the ADA and Title VII interactive reasonable accommodation process is available to individuals who express a request for accommodation due to religion, disability, or a medical condition.
Vaccinations for Federal Contractors
While employers who do not contract with the federal government have until whatever deadline is set in the forthcoming regulations to implement vaccine/testing mandates, federal contractors have a set deadline to comply. As per the President’s Executive Order, many covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no later than 12/8/2021. The detailed implementation timeline is as follows:
- Existing contracts must include the required vaccine clause when the contract option is exercised or when the contract is extended.
- The vaccination clause should be included in contract solicitations between October 15 and November 14, 2021.
- Contracts awarded on or after November 14, 2021 should include the required clause. Many covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day of contract performance.
The EOs and Guidance apply to all federal contractors and subcontractors – regardless of employer size – at all tiers. This includes individuals working from home for a covered contractor, working at a covered contractor workplace, or working at a Federal workplace.
Contractors are not required to provide workplace COVID-19 vaccinations. Contractors can inform and encourage to participate in vaccination opportunities. See Q2. Employers must review employee documentation to prove vaccination status. Employees must provide a copy of their vaccination record card or relevant medical records. An individual employee’s attestation of vaccination or antibody tests are not acceptable proof of vaccination status.
Prong 2: Mask and distancing requirements
Employees and visitors must comply with published CDC guidance regarding masks and distancing,
Employers engaged in federal contracts will want to become familiar with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Guidance. Safer Federal Workforce. As first steps, employers should:
- Ensure that the required clause is incorporated into all first-tier subcontracts.
- Post signage at workplace entrances. The signage should include information on safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully unvaccinated individuals, masking protocols, and distancing protocols.
- Take reasonable steps to advise site visitors of the above protocols.
There are many questions remaining, and we hope the regulations will address many outstanding concerns. For now, we await further developments.
Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors | The White House September 9, 2021
Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees | The White House September 9, 2021
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