On Monday, November 1, 2021, the Federal Government issued new guidance suggesting there is some flexibility in meeting the December 8, 2021 vaccination deadline stating the goal is get people vaccinated, not to punish them for not doing so.
In a series of new Q & A on the Safer Federal Workforce website, the updated guidance states:
- Employers need not resolve all requests for exemption by the December 8 deadline.
- Although contractors are expected to comply with the new COVID-19 contract clauses, contracting officers are expected to work with contractors when there is a good faith effort to comply. Significant contract actions, including termination of the contract, should be utilized only where the contractor is not taking steps to comply.
- Employers should follow their own policies in enforcement, but may consider following the federal model for employees who refuse to comply with the vaccination policy which includes counselling and education followed by progressive disciplinary measures, with termination of employment “only after continued non-compliance.”
- Covered contractor employees who refuse to be vaccinated may be denied entry into federal workplaces even if they have been granted an exemption by their employer.
- Contractors will still be held to all performance requirements of their contract even if the employees performing the work are denied access to the federal workplace due to their refusal to be vaccinated whether granted an exemption or not.
- Compliance with the new OSHA rules (when finally issued) will not relieve a contractor from compliance with the guidance specific to federal contractors.