What’s Your Vax Status? New Requirements for Federal Employees and ContractorsWith Delta variant infections on the rise, the Biden administration recently announced that “every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status,” and that anyone who “does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.”

Sounds Simple, But Is It?

To help carry out this new policy, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force recently published Agency Model Safety Principles for executive departments and agencies for their COVID-19 safety plans. Some of the highlights of the Agency Model Safety Principles provide that:

  • “Federal agencies need to ask about the vaccination status of Federal employees and onsite contractors—employees and onsite contractors must sign an attestation confirming their vaccination status, or they will be treated as not fully vaccinated for purposes of safety protocols.”
  • Federal agencies must “establish a program to test not fully vaccinated Federal employees and onsite contractors weekly or twice-weekly.”
  • “Fully vaccinated Federal employees and onsite contractors do not need to physically distance or participate in weekly screening testing, and are not subject to any Government-wide restrictions on official travel (although agency travel policies still apply).” However, in “areas of high or substantial transmission, they need to wear a mask in public indoor settings in Federal buildings,” but in “areas of low or moderate transmission, they do not need to wear a mask.” (emphasis added)
  • “Those Federal employees and onsite contractors who are not fully vaccinated or decline to provide their vaccination status must wear a mask, physically distance, and comply with a weekly or twice-weekly screening testing requirement, and are subject to Government-wide restrictions on official travel.” These requirements apply whether indoor or outdoor or whether in areas of low, moderate, or high transmission.
  • “Employees and onsite contractors must attest to the truthfulness of the response they provide. If an employee or onsite contractor chooses not to provide a response, they will be treated as not fully vaccinated for the purposes of these protocols.”

Who Is Covered?

While the current mandate for federal contractors pertains to employees who work onsite at federal facilities, the White House announced that “President Biden is directing his team to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors.” Employers with federal contracts most likely need to start conforming their policies to the above requirements.

What Does This Mean to Non-Federal Contractors or Employers?

There has been a lot of discussion among employers about the technicalities of imposing a vaccination status mandate. The Agency Model Safety Principles above may be a good starting place to see if such a program is desirable for your workplace.

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Photo of J. William Manuel J. William Manuel

Will Manuel focuses his practice primarily on commercial and employment litigation. Will advises businesses on issues involving age discrimination, sexual harassment and wage/overtime disputes for both large and small businesses in across Mississippi and other jurisdictions. His clients include numerous manufacturers and commercial…

Will Manuel focuses his practice primarily on commercial and employment litigation. Will advises businesses on issues involving age discrimination, sexual harassment and wage/overtime disputes for both large and small businesses in across Mississippi and other jurisdictions. His clients include numerous manufacturers and commercial interests as well as various insurance and financial services companies. He has worked to defend these clients in both MDL litigation and individual actions brought in Mississippi. Will’s focus is on active litigation from the initial discovery process through trial. View articles by Will.

Photo of Aron C. Beezley Aron C. Beezley

Aron Beezley is the co-leader of Bradley’s Government Contracts Practice Group. Ranked nationally in Government Contracts Law by Chambers in 2019-2020, named one of the “Top Attorneys Under 40” nationwide in Government Contracts Law by Law360 in 2016-2017, and listed in Washington, D.C.

Aron Beezley is the co-leader of Bradley’s Government Contracts Practice Group. Ranked nationally in Government Contracts Law by Chambers in 2019-2020, named one of the “Top Attorneys Under 40” nationwide in Government Contracts Law by Law360 in 2016-2017, and listed in Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” in Government Contracts Law in 2014-2020, Aron’s vast experience includes representation of government contractors in a variety of industries and in all aspects of the government-contracting process, including negotiation, award, performance and termination.

Photo of Patrick R. Quigley Patrick R. Quigley

Patrick Quigley’s practice is focused on litigating bid protests, contract claims, prime/subcontractor disputes, and small business size protests/appeals at the Government Accountability Office, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, boards of contract appeals, federal agencies, the Small Business Administration, and state courts. He…

Patrick Quigley’s practice is focused on litigating bid protests, contract claims, prime/subcontractor disputes, and small business size protests/appeals at the Government Accountability Office, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, boards of contract appeals, federal agencies, the Small Business Administration, and state courts. He conducts internal investigations and defends clients in False Claims Act litigation, government investigations, and suspension and debarment actions. Patrick conducts due diligence reviews of and advises on the government-contract aspects of business transactions, and counsels on procurement law compliance, federal employee ethics rules, teaming agreements, and conflict-of-interest mitigation plans. View articles by Patrick.