On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The brief order requires executive branch agencies—excluding the Government Accountability Office—to set up a vaccination program for the workplace. White House Press Secretary Jen Paski said federal workers must be vaccinated within 75 days.
Federal employees may obtain a medical or religious accommodation. Workers who fail to comply with the vaccination order may obtain counseling from their employer or face “progressive discipline.”
Under a previous policy, federal employees and onsite contractors needed to provide their vaccination status or be required to wear masks, practice social distancing, and undergo weekly testing requirements. However, since the Biden administration announced such requirements at the end of July, it's unclear how many agencies implemented the testing regimes.
According to the recent order, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force will release guidelines regarding the new policy within seven days. Last week, the task force said agencies should not ask federal workers to provide proof of vaccination status, but allowed to request documentation if a good faith allegation strongly suggests that an employee made a false statement.
The Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services have already instituted a vaccination mandate for most of their workforce. At the end of August, shortly after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, the Pentagon added the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunization requirement list for service members.
In addition, he signed a second order extending the mandate to federal contractors. In their federal contracts and agreements, agencies must include a specific clause requiring that companies comply with the Safe Federal Workforce Task Force’s COVID-19 protocols.
The task force must develop specific safety guidelines for federal contractors within two weeks. Then, the Office of Management and Budget needs to approve the guidance and publish the new requirements in the Federal Register.
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Councill will revise the Federal Acquisition Regulation to include vaccine requirements in federal contracts. Starting October 8, federal contractors must comply with the order.
If your employer has failed to provide you with reasonable accommodations related to COVID-19 vaccinations, contact our federal employment law attorneys at Pines Federal today at (888) 898-9902. Our legal team has more than 50 years of combined legal experience!