On September 24th, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) released new federal workforce COVID guidance. In brief, the White House COVID-19 Response Team leads the Task Force. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also lead the team. Chiefly, the Task Force gives federal agencies ongoing guidance to keep their employees safe and agencies operating during the pandemic. Previously, President Joseph Biden announced a new six-pronged strategy to combat the rise in coronavirus cases.
Summary of the Federal Workforce COVID Guidance
In general, the Task Force created the guidance under Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. For the most part, the new guidance directs executive departments and agencies to specify that contractors or subcontractors need to comply with all guidance issued by the Task Force. Additionally, the federal workforce COVID guidance contains information on the following workplace protocols:
- All covered contractor employees must receive or prove the COVID-19 vaccination. However, this will not apply in limited circumstances where an employee is legally entitled to an accommodation.
- Covered contractor employees, visitors, and associated individuals must follow any guidance related to masking and physical distancing while in covered contractor workplaces.
- All covered contractors or subcontractors must designate a person or persons to coordinate COVID-19 workplace safety efforts at covered contractor workplaces.
Additionally, the federal workplace COVID guidance contains the following Frequently Asked Questions to assist contractors on the new rules:
- How do covered contractors determine the vaccination status of visitors to covered contractor workplaces?
- Do covered contractors need to provide onsite vaccinations to their employees?
- Who is responsible for determining the accommodation status of a covered contractor employee due to possible disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance?
- Does this guidance apply to outdoor contractor or subcontractor workplace locations?
- By when must contracts reflect the requirements of the new guidance?