On Sept. 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force made President Biden’s promise to put in place a vaccine mandate for federal contractors a reality. Pursuant to these guidelines, covered contractors must implement a vaccine mandate in keeping with the Task Force guidelines. The following FAQs address these task force guidelines and their implementation by federal contractors.

We have federal contracts. Are we required to implement a vaccine mandate now? Not necessarily. The Task Force guidelines come into effect when a contractor enters into a new contract or a contract extension, renewal or exercised option that incorporates the Task Force guidelines into the covered contract. Until one of those events occurs, compliance with the guidelines by federal contractors is encouraged but voluntary.

So, what exactly do the guidelines require federal contractors to do?  The guidelines require that covered contractors implement a vaccine mandate for covered employees (and subcontractor employees), requiring covered employees to become vaccinated against COVID-19 except where such employees are entitled to a medical or religious accommodation. In addition, individuals—including employees, contractors and visitors—accessing contractor workplaces must comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's masking and physical distancing guidelines. Finally, contractors must designate an individual to coordinate COVID-19 workplace safety efforts.

By when must a covered workforce be fully vaccinated? Covered workers must provide documentary evidence of fully vaccinated status—meaning two weeks past full vaccination—by Dec. 8, 2021, or, if the compliance deadline is triggered by a later contract, by the first day of the period of performance on a newly awarded covered contract or by the first day of the period of performance on an exercised option or extended or renewed contract.

Once applicable, does the vaccine mandate apply to all employees or just those working directly on the covered contracts? The Task Force indicates that the mandate applies to “all covered contractor employees, including contractor or subcontractor employees in covered contractor workplaces who are not working on a federal” contract. 

Will the vaccine mandate apply to my subcontractors? Yes. Once the mandate becomes applicable to your organization, it will also become applicable to your subcontractors on covered contracts.

What if the Task Force guidelines change? Will those changes be effective immediately? Yes. The contract language being incorporated pursuant to the Task Force guidelines builds in a provision that requires federal contractors to comply with any additional guidance issued by the Task Force going forward.