Dive Brief:

  • Federal contractor employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than Dec. 8, 2021, according to a guidance document issued Friday by The White House.
  • Covered contractors may be required to provide an accommodation to contract employees who are not vaccinated because of a disability or sincerely-held religious belief, practice or observance, the document said. Covered employees must show or provide their employers with a document that shows proof of their vaccination status.
  • Agency heads may approve an exception for covered contractors with an “urgent, mission-critical need” to have employees begin work before becoming fully vaccinated, the White House said. However, the contractor must ensure that employees are fully vaccinated within 60 days of starting work and ensure the employees are adhering to masking and physical distancing requirements.

Dive Insight:

It is the first of what may be several follow-ups to the Biden administration’s Sept. 9 announcement stating intentions to encourage mandatory vaccination requirements in workplaces across the U.S.

President Joe Biden still has yet to put out guidelines for private-sector employers; he said that would drop in the form of a rule implementing a new temporary emergency standard by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That temporary standard would require employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination against COVID-19 and provide paid time off for the time it takes workers to get vaccinated or recover from post-vaccination side effects, Biden said.

Friday’s guidance document did not specify whether employers must offer time off, but it did require that contractors designate a person or persons to coordinate implementation of their mandates.

The administration’s private-sector mandate is likely to face legal challenges upon publication, and 24 state attorneys general have already issued a letter stating that they intend to sue the administration over any such proposal.

Whatever the outcome of the administration’s mandate may be, employers still have plenty of indicators showing that their COVID-19 vaccination mandates are likely legal, according to sources who previously spoke to HR Dive.



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