As explained in our prior overview of Executive Order 14042, “Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors” (the “Contractor COVID Executive Order”), the order requires Federal contractors and subcontractors (both referred to as “contractors” in this article) with covered contracts (and subcontracts) to comply with guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”).  On September 24, 2021, the Task Force issued that guidance, the “COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors” (“Task Force Guidance”).
The Task Force Guidance applies to a broad swath of employees and contractor work sites and contains three overarching requirements, although the third is really a mechanism to ensure enforcement of the first two. These requirements are:
The rest of this article delves further into the Task Force Guidance to answer questions about the three requirements as well as the other main area that the Contractor COVID Executive Order left to the Task Force: which “workplace locations” are covered.
Who must a contractor require to be vaccinated?
By when must a contractor require that they be vaccinated?
What can a contractor rely on to ascertain employees’ vaccination status?
Must a contractor pay for on-site vaccinations?
Masks and physical distancing for employees and visitors
At what locations do the Task Force Guidance requirements on masks and physical distancing apply?
Who must wear masks?
Where must a contractor require these individuals to wear masks?
When must a contractor require employees and visitors to practice physical distancing?
How quickly can/may a contractor change its masking and physical-distancing requirements based on changed levels of community transmission?
Coordinator of COVID-19 workplace safety efforts
What activities must the coordinator(s) do for the contractor?
What locations are “covered contractor workplace locations”?
What is a “location”? Can a contractor limit the application to a single floor, building, site, or facility?
Although the Task Force Guidance answers many industry questions, there are still some questions left unanswered. Hopefully, the implementing contract clauses (that will be issued sometime in or before October) will answer many of those questions. Nevertheless, companies preparing to submit bids or proposals for covered Government work and contractors who have contracts with open options or extensions must stay vigilant in monitoring updates to the Task Force Guidance. Indeed, the Contractor COVID Executive Order did not explicitly mandate the three overarching requirements in the guidance, so the Government may quickly pivot and increase mandates for covered contractors through updates to the Task Force Guidance.
 This article does not detail which contracts are covered under the Contractor COVID Executive Order, which was discussed in our prior article. We do note, however, that the Task Force Guidance encourages agencies to include a clause requiring compliance with the guidance in contracts even if the contract is not covered by the Contractor COVID Executive Order (such as those below the simplified acquisition threshold).
 The Task Force Guidance does not specifically require the coordinator to be responsible for this task but does require the contractor to check this weekly.
Jayna Marie Rust is an associate in Thompson Coburn’s Washington, D.C. office. She counsels clients on Federal contract- and grant-administration matters. She also represents Government contractors in connection with claims, protests, and disputes.
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