On November 1, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) issued new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for federal contractors that are subject to Executive Order (EO) No. 14042 on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. The new guidance addresses requests for accommodations, applicability to corporate affiliates, and recommendations for enforcement and compliance. As required by the implementing contract clause, covered contractors are required to comply with this new guidance.
Requests for accommodations: First, the FAQs state that requests for accommodation do not need to be resolved before a covered contractor employee begins work on a covered contract or at a covered workplace. While requests are pending, these employees must follow workplace safety protocols for employees that are not fully vaccinated as specified in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors, which Crowell addressed in client alerts on September 24, 2021 and October 6, 2021. On the other hand, for covered employees that are not vaccinated because they received an accommodation from the covered contractor, agencies are entitled to determine which protocols such employees must follow when they enter a federal workplace. Notably, agencies may determine that mandating the vaccine is the only safety measure available. In such cases, covered employees with accommodations would be unable to work at the federal workplace but the contractor would not be relieved from meeting its contractual requirements. Covered contractors could presumably take the same approach for employees that only or occasionally work at a covered contractor workplace. Additionally, covered contractors should notify their contracting officer when one of their employees who works at a federal workplace has received an exception to the requirement to be fully vaccinated.
Corporate Affiliates: Second, the FAQs clarify that corporate affiliates of a covered contractor that do not otherwise qualify as covered contractors may be covered by the vaccine mandate if: “(i) either one controls or has the power to control the other; or (ii) a third party controls or has the power to control both.” Indicia of control also include interlocking management or ownership, identity of interests among family members, shared facilities and equipment, or common use of employees. Therefore, employees of a corporate affiliate of a covered contractor working at the covered contractor’s “covered contractor workplace” will be subject to the vaccine mandate. Additionally, a facility that is owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by an affiliate that is not a covered contractor will be considered a “covered contractor workplace” subject to the vaccine mandate where an employee of the affiliated covered contractor working on or in connection with a covered contract is likely to be present during the period of performance.
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