In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
- New COVID Compliance for Government Contractors – read now
- USCIS to Require COVID Vaccines for Immigration Medical Examinations – read now
New COVID Compliance for Government Contractors
As everyone has probably heard by now, President Biden announced new Federal COVID vaccination requirements which will become effective October 15, 2021 imposed on contractors and subcontractors operating in the federal space. This is in addition to requiring vaccination for members of the Federal workforce, health care workers who work at institutions receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding, and the vaccination or weekly testing for large (100+) private sector employers.
The full scope of the new contractor obligations will not be decided until regulations are released in the coming weeks, however, contractors should be preparing now for how to handle their workforces. It is anticipated that these new mandates may mirror the current requirements in place for federal contractors who work onsite at federal workplaces, i.e., vaccination or subject to regular COVID-19 testing. The anticipated guidance may also address other measures related to masking, distancing and contact tracing. The Executive Order expressly provides that it does not supersede compliance with more stringent workplace safety requirements established under state or local laws.
The new requirements will apply to “contract or contract-like instruments.” This includes contracts, lease agreements, cooperative agreements, service agreements, licenses, any services covered by the Service Contract Act, and the provision of concessions. It will not apply to grants, contracts or subcontracts below the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), employees who work outside the United States and subcontracts solely for the provision of products.
Although the Executive Order is silent on penalties and remedies for noncompliance, given this is a change to existing contracts, it is also expected that if there are any costs or cost impacts associated with implementing these protocols, they may be recoverable under the contract “changes” clause. This may include costs for testing, safety measures, staffing impacts, contact tracing, and possibly shut downs. Once the guidance is released, we hope to have better insight into what measures may be recoverable.
Specifics of the Executive Order’s scope and requirements are uncertain until the Task Force Guidance issues its recommendations. Proactive contractors should begin to consider taking steps now to implement policies which reinforce vaccination suggestions to minimize a sudden impact over the next few months. This will include communicating with employees, surveying vaccination status and focusing on accommodations necessary under the law where applicable.
If you have questions about implementing a plan with your workforce, feel free to reach out to our Government Contracts Group or Employment and Labor Law Group.
Immigration News Alert: As of 10/1/21, USCIS will require COVID-19 vaccinations
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that, as of October 1, 2021, applicants for immigrant visas or adjustment of status must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the USCIS physician can complete the immigration medical exam and thus provide a signed Form I-693. This is in conjunction with the CDC’s Technical Instructions with Civil Surgeons. Applicants are advised to take proof of their COVID vaccinations, as well as other required vaccinations with them to the medical examination. The USCIS may grant waivers as appropriate. The full list of vaccinations required can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/tools/designated-civil-surgeons/vaccination-requirements.
Our Immigration Law Group can be contacted with questions regarding change in status inquiries.
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