Compliance Guidance on Federal Vaccine Mandates
Director of Employee Benefits Compliance
On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced new federal initiatives regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the President issued two Executive Orders regarding vaccine mandates for federal employees and federal contractors, and directed the Department of Labor to issue an emergency rule for employers with 100 or more employees in the private sector.
These directives are outlined below:
- Federal employees: The White House released an Executive Order (EO) requiring COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees. The EO requires each federal agency to implement a program to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all federal employees, including legal exceptions. Guidance will be coming within the next seven days regarding implementation requirements.
- Federal Contractors: The White House released an Executive Order (EO) to require federal contractors to set adequate COVID safety protocols. This EO requires federal departments and agencies to include a clause in all contracts requiring contractors or subcontractors to adhere to guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force applicable to workplace locations in which work is conducted regarding federal contractors.
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force is required to issue definitions and explanations of protocols by September 24, 2021. The Federal Acquisition Regulation must be amended by October 8, 2021 to include the new protocols and requirements. All federal contracts not subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation must comply with the protocols and requirements by October 15, 2021.
- Employers with 100+ Employees: The Administration has directed the Department of Labor-Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency rule mandating workforce vaccinations for employers with 100 or more employees. Details regarding the requirements and enforcement are unavailable at this time because the rule has not been issued.
These plans were announced, but rules have not yet been released for any of these new federal initiatives.
These proposals are the latest effort by the federal government to manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers who qualify as federal contractors or have 100 or more employees should review the definitions and rules when they are released by the federal government. Organizations would be well-served by working with their legal counsel when new rules are released and we will continue to monitor this situation.