Everything Government Contractors Need to Know About COVID Vaccine Mandates
by Jennifer Marques
I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100.
― Woody Allen
Let me help you fill in those blanks regarding COVID vaccine mandates. Your other issues, you will have to work through yourself. Let’s get this party started!
On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced his Path Out of the Pandemic, COVID-19 Action Plan. As part of that plan, the President signed Executive Order 14042 on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.
The Order requires all executive departments and agencies of the federal government to ensure that covered contracts and contract-like instruments include a clause requiring federal government contractors and subcontractors at any tier, to comply with all guidance published by the Task Force on COVID-19 workplace safeguards.
Who is covered?
My attorney literalist side wants to say, right now, no one is covered. And that is a true statement. However, in the not so distant future, most of you reading this will be covered.
- Contracts awarded (or modified, renewed or extended) on or after November 14, 2021, must contain a COVID vaccine contract clause. That clause will be arriving on our doorstep on October 8, 2021.
- For contracts awarded between October 15 and November 14: (a) the contract must include the contract clause if the solicitation for the contract was issued on or after October 15; and (b) if the solicitation for the contract was issued prior to October 15, federal agencies are encouraged to include the contract clause in the contract.
- Contracts awarded prior to October 15, 2021, are not covered unless an option is exercised or an extension is made. Plan on being covered, because I guarantee you that some of your competitors will be touting their vaccinated staff status. It will be like CMMC but better because that is a multiagency USP (unique selling point). Important point – we are seeing agencies stating that they will modify existing contracts to add this clause.
Who is not covered?
Grantees, Native American Tribes, OCONUS employees, contracts for less than $250,000 (the simplified acquisition threshold) and subcontracts solely for products (but I think the product provider loophole will be closed).
What is required?
Each and every one of your current covered employees must be vaccinated against COVID by December 8, 2021. This includes back room employees, remote employees, excellent employees, the person in IT whose name you never remember, and those employees you would love to send to your competitor. All of them. The only exceptions are the religious or health/disability exemptions/accommodations, which our labor and employment attorney, David Warner, says must be carefully documented and vetted.
What about HIPAA?
It does not apply to you unless you are a medical provider. So worry about other things that might apply to you, like increased IG audits.
Our staff got COVID during that ill-fated holiday party cruise. Do we still have to get vaccinated?
Do we have to have a person in charge of this?
Of course you do, silly. This is a highly regulated industry! You must designate someone as the workplace safety and other duties as assigned employee in charge of this. HR, I have a feeling this is heading in your direction.
Do we need to get a copy of vaccination records from each employee? What about HIPAA?
I already told you that HIPAA does not apply. (There is no such thing as multitasking). The Americans with Disabilities Act record keeping requirements do however, apply.
Yes, you will need to get vaccine records from your covered employees.
This is exhausting. What else do I have to do?
No one ever said, contracting with the federal government was easy. There are masking requirements in high risk areas and social distancing requirements. See CDC guidance.
If I enter a Federal Agency will I have to provide further information regarding my vaccination status?
If you need expert legal advice regarding COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, or any Government Contracting needs, contact Centre Law & Consulting.