Ask Our Benefits Team: How Do The New Guidelines For Federal Contractors & Subcontractors Effect My Business?

by | Sep 27, 2021

On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued a new order for COVID-19 Workplace Safety for Federal Contractors & Subcontractors. Our VanVleet Insurance benefits team is researching and learning how this can impact our clients! First of all, we would like to encourage all of our clients to read the entire document (link above). Secondly, we would like to highlight some of the Frequently Asked Questions (starting on page 9) that you might find interesting!

Q4- Who is responsible for determining if a covered contractor employee must be provided an accommodation because of a disability or because of sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance?

A: A covered contractor may be required to provide an accommodation to contractor employees who communicate to the covered contractor that they are not vaccinated for COVID-19, or that they cannot wear a mask, because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. A covered contractor should review and consider what, if any, accommodation it must offer. The contractor is responsible for
considering, and dispositioning, such requests for accommodations regardless of the covered contractor employee’s place of performance. If the agency that is the party to the covered contract is a “joint employer” for purposes of compliance with the Rehabilitation Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, both the agency and the covered contractor should review and consider what, if any, accommodation they must offer.

Q7- Does this Guidance apply to outdoor contractor or subcontractor workplace location?

A: Yes, this Guidance applies to contractor or subcontractor workplace locations that are outdoors.

Q10- Are the workplace safety protocols enumerated about the same irrespective of whether the work is performed at a covered contractor workplace or at a Federal workplace?

A: Yes. The Guidance applies to all covered contractor employees and to all contractor or
subcontractor workplace locations. While at a Federal workplace, covered contractor employees
must also comply with any additional agency workplace safety requirements for that workplace.
Because covered contractor employees working on a covered contract need to be fully
vaccinated after December 8, 2021, covered contractor employees who work only at a Federal
workplace need to be fully vaccinated by that date as well, unless legally entitled to an

Q14- Does the guidance apply to small business?

A: Yes, the requirement to comply with this Guidance applies equally to covered contractors
regardless of whether they are a small business. This broad application of COVID-19 guidance
will more effectively decrease the spread of COVID-19, which, in turn, will decrease worker
absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at
workplaces where they are performing work for the Federal Government.

Q17- What constitutes work performed “in connection with” a covered contract?

A: Employees who perform duties necessary to the performance of the covered contract, but
who are not directly engaged in performing the specific work called for by the covered contract,
such as human resources, billing, and legal review, perform work in connection with a Federal
Government contract.

Q20- Can a covered contractor comply with workplace safter requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including pursuant to any current or forthcoming Emergency Tempory Standard related to Covid-19, instead of this Guidance?    

A: No. Covered contractors must comply with the requirements set forth in this Guidance
regardless of whether they are subject to other workplace safety standards.