President Biden issued an executive order earlier this month regarding the Path Out of the Pandemic plan aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19. Although this is considered to be a 6-fold, multi-faceted plan, two central portions focus on vaccine mandates and COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors, including vaccine mandates.
Under the plan, the president instructs the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a directive stating that companies with 100 or more employees must require employees to be fully vaccinated or to require negative COVID tests weekly. The plan also mandates that covered government contractors and subcontractors, regardless of size, comply with all guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
The task force was given until September 24th to provide details which will include:
“…definitions of relevant terms for contractors and subcontractors, explanations of protocols required of contractors and subcontractors to comply with workplace safety guidance, and any exceptions to Task Force Guidance that apply to contractor and subcontractor workplace locations and individuals in those locations working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument.” (Executive Order)
Which government contractors are affected?
Specific guidance is still forthcoming and is likely to require additional clarification before it can be applied in the workplace. However, the following federal contracts and contractual situations appear to be covered under the mandate:
- Contracts that fall under DBRA and/or SCA.
- Procurement contracts for construction, services or the lease of property.
- Concession contracts, even if they are typically excluded under SCA.
- Any contract in connection with federal property which includes offering services to federal employees, their dependents or the general public.
At the moment, grants, contracts or contract-like instructions with Native American tribes, contracts under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) threshold and contracts for services only are not covered. Additionally, contracts for employees working outside of the US are not currently included.
As we’ve seen with previous legislation, guidance will be needed in order to understand and correctly apply the law. Since this is an evolving situation, you’ll want to be mindful of updates regarding how the mandate should be applied to your business.
Read more about the Covid Plan here.
Read the September 13th Safer Federal Workforce Task Force COVID-19 Workplace Safety notice here.