On November 1st, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued new FAQs about COVID-19 workplace safety guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors. Generally, the FAQS cover contractors subject to Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. Specifically, covered contractors are subject to the Order’s COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors. Earlier, on October 1st, 2021, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council released a draft COVID-19-related contractor clause.

Overview of the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force

President Joseph Biden created the Task Force to provide ongoing guidance to the heads of federal agencies. Basically, the President created it to keep federal employees safe and their agencies operating during the pandemic. Altogether, the White House COVID-19 Response Team, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) lead the Task Force. Additionally, Task Force members include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Summary of New FAQs About COVID-19

Overall, the new FAQs about COVID-19 and federal contractors are organized into several sections. These sections include Vaccination and Safety Protocols; Scope and Applicability of Task Force Guidance; and Compliance. Further sections within the guidance include Workplaces and Onsite Contractor Employees and Federal Workplace Safety Protocols. The requirements included within the FAQs apply to new contracts awarded on or after October 15th, 2021.

Highlighted FAQs

  • Q: What steps should an agency take if a covered contractor does not comply with the requirements in the Task Force’s Guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors?
    A: Covered contractors must comply with all requirements outlined in their contract. Where covered contractors are working in good faith and encounter challenges with compliance with COVID-19 workplace safety protocols, the agency contracting officer should work with them to address these challenges. If a covered contractor is not taking steps to comply, the agency can terminate the contract.
  • Q: Should agencies provide employees who are seeking a legally required exception to the vaccination requirement with a form?
    A: Agencies can refer to two templates to develop a form for employees seeking an exception. Forms for exceptions are based either on a medical condition or based on religious beliefs. The agency may use the information on the forms to help determine whether the employee is entitled to an accommodation.
  • Q: What workplace safety protocols should an agency apply to an onsite contractor employee who is not fully vaccinated because the contractor employee has been provided an exception to the vaccination requirement by their employer?
    A: In most circumstances, an agency should require an onsite unvaccinated contractor employee to follow applicable masking, distancing, and testing protocols. However, in some cases, an agency may determine that the nature of an onsite contractor employee’s responsibilities or work location within a federal workplace requires heightened safety protocols or vaccination.

COVID-19 Prevention Training for Employees

As federal mandates regarding COVID-19 workplace safety continue to evolve, employers must stay updated on everything, from masks to vaccinations. For that purpose, Personnel Concepts keeps employers informed of the latest regulations and mandates to affect the workplace. For example, Personnel Concepts has created the updated COVID-19 Prevention Training for Employees (eLearning Module). This interactive training module will help employees understand their roles and responsibilities in keeping themselves and others safe during the pandemic.