President Biden Clarifies Federal Contractor Deadline for Vaccine Mandate

On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, which essentially required federal contractors to implement a “hard” vaccine mandate for their employees against COVID-19 (“hard” means no option for weekly testing in lieu of the vaccine).  This is accomplished by requiring federal executive agencies and contractors of every level to include clauses requiring such contractors and subcontractors comply with guidance promulgated by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”).  Initially, the Task Force issued guidance on September 13th, but it did not resolve all questions.

On Friday, September 24, 2021, the Task Force issued additional Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors, which requires employees to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine unless they are entitled to a reasonable accommodation.  All covered contractor must ensure that their covered employees (full time and part time) are fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021 or the first day of performance on a new contract.

The Guidance includes many questions and answers for contractors and subcontractors.  It also clarifies that this requirement applies to small businesses regardless of the number of employees.  In other words, the Guidance makes it clear that the “hard” vaccine mandate (where vaccines are required and there is to testing alternative) applies to federal contractors, regardless of the number of employees.  This clarification is important as employers may have hoped that the “soft” mandate (with a testing alternative) may be applicable to them.  Yet, it is now clear that the federal contractor “hard” mandate overrides any rule for a ‘soft” mandate applicable generally to private employers.

If you have questions about whether you are a covered contractor and how to implement the vaccine mandate and any other contractual obligations with the Federal Government, please contact Peter L. Frattarelli, Ashley M. LeBrun, or any member of Archer’s Labor and Employment Group.