The White House Has Issued Guidance to Federal Contractors Concerning the Vaccine Mandate

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FAQs have been released regarding proof of vaccination status, timing of resolution of accommodations, employees who refuse to be vaccinated, and vaccination deadlines.

The White House has released FAQs in order to provide guidance to federal contractors and subcontractors concerning the deadline for covered employees to be fully vaccinated. The various subject matter categories of the FAQs are addressed below.

Proof of Vaccination Status

If an employer can access an employee's vaccination status through existing documentation previously provided by the employee to the employer, through a state's immunization database, or from some other source, an employee does not need to present proof of vaccination status.

Timing of Resolution of Accommodations

If an employee requests a religious or disability accommodation from the vaccine, the employee's accommodation request does not need to be resolved before the employee is permitted to begin his/her work for a federal agency. However, while the employee's accommodation is being reviewed, the employee must follow workplace safety protocols for individuals who are not fully vaccinated as specified in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors.

Acceptable Safety Protocols for an Employee Who Has Received an Accommodation

Generally, unvaccinated employees must follow applicable masking, physical distancing, and testing protocols. However, there may be situations where heightened safety protocols are necessary. In addition, there may be circumstances where due to the nature of the employee's responsibilities, no other safety protocol other than being vaccinated would be adequate and the employee may not be able to perform his/her duties onsite. The employer would still be obligated to perform their contract deliverables even if an employee or more than one employee cannot perform their duties onsite.

Employees of an Affiliate to the Covered Federal Contractor

A company is an affiliate of the federal contractor and subject to the safety protocols for federal contractors established through the Task Force Guidance if, directly or indirectly, (a) either one controls or has the power to control the other, or (b) a third party controls or has the power to control both. Factors demonstrating control include but are not limited to, interlocking management of ownership, identity of interests among family members, shared facilities and equipment, or common use of employees. Thus, an employee of an affiliate is subject to the Task Force Guidance if the individual performs work at a covered contractor workplace.

In addition, if the location where an employee works is owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by an affiliate of a contractor, and the employee works in connection with a covered contract, that workplace is subject to the Task Force Guidance.

Employees Who Refuse to be Vaccinated

Employers have the flexibility in determining how to enforce the requirements for unvaccinated employees who refuse to be vaccinated and are not otherwise eligible for an accommodation. This may take the form of the employer following the procedures the company has adopted for governing its workplace, such as an employee handbook or collective bargaining agreement. It is up to the employer to determine when an employee's continued refusal qualifies for enhanced disciplinary measures for non-compliance. In the instance when unvaccinated employees report to agency worksites, they must follow established safety protocols based on their vaccination status. A federal agency may deny entry for any unvaccinated employee to a federal workplace, consistent with the agency's workplace safety protocols, regardless of whether the employer's enforcement mechanisms have worked.

Good Faith Efforts to Comply with the Task Force's Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors

To the extent that an employer has not complied with the Task Force's Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors but has otherwise made good faith efforts to fully comply, the federal agency's contracting officer is instructed to work with the employer to address those challenges. However, if the employer is not taking sufficient steps towards full compliance, the employer may be at risk of having its federal contract or subcontract terminated.

Note about Vaccination Deadline

Note that the deadline for workers of federal contractors and subcontractors to be vaccinated had been December 8, 2021. However, the White House announced on November 4, 2021, that it was moving to align vaccination deadlines across federal contractors, workers in Medicare and Medicaid facilities, and employees of companies with 100 or more employees. According to the White House, the new vaccination deadline will be January 4, 2022.

ADP Compliance Resources

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Updated on November 15, 2021