While the White House’s September 9 executive order makes clear that employees of Federal government contractors will be covered by an updated coronavirus vaccine mandate, the exact details of that requirement may not be learned until later this month when the government’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issues more precise information.
The deadline for the task force to issue guidance for contractors is September 24, according to the text of the order released by the White House.
By that date, the order says, the task force shall “provide 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.”
The executive order itself makes clear that the White House views strong virus safety protocols as highly important for contractors and the government.
“This order promotes economy and efficiency in Federal procurement by ensuring that the parties that contract with the Federal Government provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers performing on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument as described in section 5(a) of this order,” the order says.
“These safeguards will decrease the spread of COVID-19, which will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at sites where they are performing work for the Federal Government. Accordingly, ensuring that Federal contractors and subcontractors are adequately protected from COVID-19 will bolster economy and efficiency in Federal procurement,” the White House said in the order.
Further, the White House order says that Federal agencies will include language in contracts and subcontracts that “shall specify that the contractor or subcontractor shall, for the duration of the contract, comply with all guidance for contractor or subcontractor workplace locations published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force Guidance or Guidance), provided that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) approves the Task Force Guidance and determines that the guidance, if adhered to by contractors or subcontractors, will promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting.”
“This clause shall apply to any workplace locations (as specified by the Task Force Guidance) in which an individual is working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument (as described in section 5(a) of this order,” according to the order.