In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
- Vaccine Mandate News Update: Court Actions and Contractor On-Site Protocol – read now
Vaccine Mandate News Update: Court Actions and Contractor On-Site Protocol
As there continues to be evolving updates for federal contractors wrestling with getting employees vaccinated, our firm continues to receive questions. Adding to the uncertainty for employers, over the weekend, at least one federal appeals court issued a stay over the imposition of the mandate for private employers with more than 100 employees to have employees vaccinated or tested weekly. That case now needs to work its way through the court system. With great respect and homage to Stealers Wheel, we’re “stuck in the middle with you.”
While many are regularly pontificating over the issues, no one knows where things stand with the stay imposed by the federal court. On top of that, that stay is subject to review and competition with other jurisdictions which are reviewing the same issue. Notwithstanding the possibility of a temporary reprieve, it seems prudent to not yet let up on the gas and continue to encourage employees to get vaccinated or to request exemptions.
The worst thing that could happen for a federal contractor is to get stuck behind the eight ball if the stay is lifted and the contractor has to suddenly scramble to become compliant, or, worse, replaced. As the guidance put out over a week ago stated, employers should attempt to undertake efforts to encourage and educate employees on the vaccine and take steps to protect their workplace.
Another question we have been fielding lately is what protocols employees with valid exemptions must follow when at customer sites. The federal guidance stated, “The Federal agency will determine the workplace safety protocols that individuals who are not fully vaccinated must follow while in a Federal workplace.” The protocols will depend on what the site requires and may include applicable masking, physical distancing, and testing protocols. The guidance warns that there may be a time that the Federal workplace requires heightened safety protocols.
Creating a further incentive for contractors to get individuals vaccinated where possible, the guidance warns that there may come a time that vaccination is required and if an employee has a legal exemption, such circumstances will “not relieve the contractor from meeting all contractual requirements.” If you have employees who have received a valid exemption from vaccination, while attempting to maintain anonymity for the employee, contractors should inform their contracting officers that an employee with an exemption from vaccination is present.
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