On Thursday, July 29, 2021, President Joe Biden announced new measures to encourage vaccinations among Americans. Focusing primarily on increasing vaccinations at the federal level, President Biden stated that all federal government employees and on-site federal contractors are required to attest to their vaccination status. This order only applies to onsite contractors; it appears that remote contractors (like those providing IT-related services that do not require a physical presence) do not need to attest to their vaccination status.
At this time, federal or contractor employees can refuse to attest to their vaccination status and still work if they are not yet vaccinated. However, there are implications to this choice. First, all unvaccinated/non-attesting employees and contractors will be required to wear masks while working on location, physically distance themselves while working, and test for COVID one to two times a week. Additionally, unvaccinated federal employees and contractors will be restricted from traveling for work.
As of now, federal contractors only need to attest to their vaccination status. President Biden has not ordered that on-site contractor employees receive the COVID vaccine. However, the stagnant vaccine rate, increasing infection numbers, and the severity of the Delta variant may lead this position to change.
As a federal contractor, it is important to ensure that all your workers are vaccinated or strictly follow CDC guidelines. These actions will not only it protect your workforce, but they will allow you and your workers to avoid these additional burdens placed on unvaccinated workers. Further, there could be real contractual implications if a contractor employee violates CDC guidelines and causes a COVID outbreak.
You can watch the full press conference below:
If you have questions about this new policy or how to implement it, contact Lewis Rhodes, who leads General Counsel, P.C.’s Government Contracts Practice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-556-0411.