What You Need to Know
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (SFWTF) has issued guidance on new COVID-19 safety protocols that apply to all federal contractors and subcontractors.
The three key elements are:
- Full vaccination of all employees by December 8, 2021, with limited exceptions and no testing option instead of vaccination
- Worksite requirements for masking and physical distancing, including visitors and others as well as employees
- A designated COVID-19 workplace safety coordinator
Covered contractors and subcontractors will also need to include requirements clauses in their downstream subcontracts.
Does this law apply to my company?
The requirement covers certain types of federal contracts and "contract-like instruments." If your company has even one of these types of contracts or subcontracts, the requirement applies to all of your company employees, including administrative employees, even if they are not working on this project. Generally, these are contracts (including service contracts) directly with a federal agency under any federal procurement statute, plus all downstream subcontracts, but you will need to check all current and upcoming contracts for work performed in the U.S.
When do these requirements become effective?
- Contracts awarded before October 15, 2021 that are ongoing: The requirements will be incorporated when there is an option exercised or extension made.
- Contracts made between October 15 and November 14: The requirements will be in the solicitation.
- Contracts made on and after November 14: All new contracts will contain the requirements.
What happens if we can't comply?
We do not have clear information yet on penalties for non-compliance, but there are likely to be financial penalties as well as potential impact on your ability to bid work as a federal contractor or subcontractor.
Can we just fire any employees who refuse to get vaccinated?
It will depend. Employees with legitimate medical or religious reasons for not being vaccinated are protected and exempt from the requirements. You may be able to lay off employees if they do not qualify for work and you have no other work available for them, but you should consult legal counsel before deciding to terminate anyone who does not meet these requirements. For now, the recommendation is to 1) determine if any of your current contracts cause you to fall under these requirements, and if so 2) start evaluating your entire workforce.
What do I need to do right now?
- Read this article from Fisher Phillips for a helpful breakdown of the main requirements and recommendations for next steps to take. You may also want to read the Guidance and FAQ from SFWTF; bear in mind that some questions are still unclear at this time.
- Read UCON's COVID-19 Vaccination FAQ for the latest guidance on vaccination in general, including information on union employees. We will be updating this with more information soon.
- Talk to your legal counsel for advisory specific to your company, especially regarding how to handle medical and religious exemption requests.
UCON will continue to update members on relevant regulatory changes. Please refer to our COVID-19 Resources Page (available to everyone in the industry) for regular updates to federal, statewide and local policy developments.
Contact: UCON Labor & Member Services via email or phone 925-855-7900.