U.S. Enforces Covid Vaccine Rules on Federal Contractors for Its Workers
In a new White House guidance laying out details on how the rules will be implemented, Joe Biden will give federal contractors broad authority to enforce his mandate for Covid-19 vaccines.
IBM, Boeing, food service companies, and other federal contractors will be able to decide how they will enforce vaccination requirements if workers do not wish to comply with their vaccination requirements.
“A covered contractor should determine the appropriate means of enforcement with respect to its employee at a covered contractor workplace who refuses to be vaccinated and has not been provided or does not have a pending request for, an accommodation,” according to the guidelines, which impact several millions of employees.
For businesses with 100 or more employees, the regulations for federal contractors are more stringent than the upcoming mandate for vaccines, which permits regular testing as an alternative to vaccinations.
These Rules Are Still Being Finalized By The Labor Department
Concerns about possible supply chain disruptions have caused businesses to request a delay of the mandate until after the holiday season.
Following requests for more details on how to implement the rules, the White House released its federal contractor guidance on Monday.
As part of Biden’s executive order issued on Sept. 9, federal contractors must vaccinate their workers against Covid-19, as well as follow social distancing and masking policies.
Implementation of Corvid-19 Requirements Must Be Completed by Contractors by Dec. 8.
Officials of the White House explained that Dec. 8 is the deadline but not a hard one for companies to vaccinate all of their employees.
They explained that contractors must instead make sure that their efforts are directed towards ensuring employees receive vaccinations and have plans for enforcing masking and social distancing policies at work.
The government won’t require federal contractors to demonstrate evidence of vaccination rates at the deadline, according to a senior administration official.
However, If non-compliance is detected, the federal contract with the contractor could be terminated. Vaccination policies could further cause federal agencies to bar employing contractors who refuse vaccinations.
“In most circumstances, individuals who are not fully vaccinated need to follow applicable masking, physical distancing, and testing protocols,” the guidelines stated.
According to senior administration officials, contractors will determine whether an employee requires accommodations due to sincerely held religious beliefs or medical conditions.
Still, It is not mandatory for federal contractors to decide on accommodation requests at the beginning of a new project.
“The covered contractor may still be reviewing requests for accommodation as of the time that covered contractor employees begin work on a covered contract or at a covered workplace,” the guidelines stated.
As noted in the guidelines, federal contractors are required to enforce policies on masking and social distancing while accommodation requests are being reviewed.
Several large contractors, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Boeing, and others, have told their workers they must be vaccinated or apply for an exemption on or before Dec. 8.
A number of labor unions have voiced opposition to the mandate, including the American and Southwest pilots’ unions.
A federal judge in Texas last week denied a request from the latter union to bar implementation of the mandate.
In a lawsuit filed on Friday, 11 Republican-controlled states claimed it is unconstitutional to mandate vaccines.
Despite state laws that prohibit compliance with Covid-19 mitigation policies, the administration has made it clear that these requirements supersede them.
Neither American nor Southwest executives are taking a tough stance against the mandate. A few are encouraging employees to request religious or medical exemptions if they won’t take the vaccine, as they don’t plan on terminating employees over it.
As of last month, Southwest released its plan to send workers on unpaid leave while their exemption requests were pending.
According to the airline executives, the mandate will not affect flights during the holidays.