A set of FAQs has been published to help federal executive branch employees as well as federal contractors and subcontracors better understand how to comply with the new vaccine mandate imposed on them by President Biden’s executive order 14042 on September 9. As a reminder, the Biden administration had announced in July that federal contractors and subcontractors must be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. This new order removes the weekly testing option effective
November 22 December 8. Update: Guidance was issued Friday, September 24, to bump this to Wednesday, December 8, 2021, for federal contractors. Executive branch employees must still be vaccinated by the original November 22 deadline.
As a result, contractor employees must receive their final dose of vaccine by Wednesday, November 24, 2021, in order to be deemed “fully vaccinated” two weeks later on Wednesday, December 8. This means federal contractor and subcontractor employees should secure:
- their first dose of the Moderna vaccine no later than Wednesday, October 27 (assuming they schedule the second dose exactly 28 days later on Wednesday, November 24), or
- first dose of the Pfizer vaccine no later than Wednesday, November 3 (assuming they schedule the second does exactly 21 days later on Wednesday, November 24), or
- the single does J&J vaccine no later than Wednesday, November 24.
We encourage employers to read the FAQ for themselves, but here are some highlights:
- Federal “agencies are strongly encouraged to incorporate vaccination requirements into contracts that are not covered by Executive Order 14042”
- Until the mandate is fully effective December 8 for all contractor and subcontractor employees (even those who do not go on-site), the following rules will apply to all onsite contractors:
- All onsite contractors must complete a Certification of Vaccination form and keep it on their person at all times.
- “Onsite contractor employees who are not fully vaccinated (or who decline to disclose vaccination status) are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from within the previous 3 days before entry to a federal building or federally controlled indoor worksite.” The test can be any test the federal agency deems acceptable so long as it’s “authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to detect current infection and produce a dated result.” However, “if a contractor employee is regularly tested pursuant to an agency testing program, then they do not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test” unless that facility/agency specifically requires it.
- “Fully vaccinated” means two weeks following:
- The second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,
- The single does J&J vaccine,
- “COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford),” or
- “Clinical trial participants from a U.S. site who are documented to have received the full series of an “active” (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine candidate, for which vaccine efficacy has been independently confirmed (e.g., by a data and safety monitoring board), can be considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after they have completed the vaccine series. Currently, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine meets these criteria.”
- So it would appear a booster shot for immunocompromised employees is not required to be deemed fully vaccinated at this time, and “there is currently no post-vaccination time limit on fully vaccinated status”
The mandate will also apply to federal employees of the executive branch effective Monday, November 22, 2021. The FAQs address some provisions for them which may prove helpful for federal contractors and other employers, too.
- All new hires as of November 22 must be “fully vaccinated prior to their start date, except in limited circumstances where a reasonable accommodation is legally required. However, should an agency have an urgent, mission-critical hiring need to onboard new staff prior to those new staff becoming fully vaccinated, the agency head may approve an exception—in the case of such limited hiring exceptions, new hires need to be vaccinated within 60 days of their start date and follow safety protocols for not fully vaccinated individuals until they are fully vaccinated.”
- The executive branch must mandate the vaccine of all employees, including remote employees. “Employees who are on maximum telework or working remotely are not excused from this requirement, including because employees working offsite may interact with the public as part of their duties and agencies may need to recall employees who are on maximum telework or working remotely.”
- “Agencies should take steps to make their employees aware of convenient opportunities to be vaccinated. Given the widespread availability of vaccinations, it is not required that agencies provide vaccinations at their facilities or worksites, although agencies may choose to do so.”
IMA will continue to monitor regulator guidance and offer meaningful, practical, timely information.
This material should not be considered as a substitute for legal, tax and/or actuarial advice. Contact the appropriate professional counsel for such matters. These materials are not exhaustive and are subject to possible changes in applicable laws, rules, and regulations and their interpretations.