President Biden signed an executive order on Thursday of this week that outlines a coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The executive order applies only to new contracts or new contract-like instruments as well as for new solicitations, extensions, renewals, and/or exercises of an option for an existing agreement. The executive order does not specifically include a vaccine mandate but it does state that federal contractors will be required to comply with the “Safer Federal Workforce Task Force” requirements. Biden’s statements on Thursday make clear that those requirements will include a vaccine mandate. “If you want to work with the federal government, do business with us? Get vaccinated,” Biden said.

The executive order requirements specifically apply to federal contractors: “This order promotes economy and efficiency in federal procurement by ensuring that the parties that contract with the federal government provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers performing on or in connection with a federal government contract or contract-like instrument,” …. “These safeguards will decrease the spread of COVID-19, which will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at sites where they are performing work for the federal government.”

Agencies must incorporate a clause in new contracts that “shall specify that the contractor or subcontractor shall, for the duration of the contract, comply with all guidance for contractor or subcontractor workplace locations published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force,” states the executive order. “This clause shall apply to any workplace locations (as specified by the task force guidance) in which an individual is working on or in connection with a federal government contract or contract-like instrument.” The order outlines what should be implemented and how over the next month. The task force will issue guidance by September 24 that will further explain the requirements and any exceptions (it is expected that there will be medical and religious exemptions like Gov. Inslee’s mandate). There is no specific date as to when employees of federal contractors must be fully vaccinated on new contracts (unlike Gov. Inslee’s mandate that has an October 18, 2021 deadline to be fully vaccinated). The requirements do not apply to existing contracts with the government.

The executive order does not cover: grants; contracts, or contact-like instruments or agreements with Indian Tribes (as outlined in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act); contracts or contract-like instruments with values equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold; employees who work outside of the United States; and “subcontracts solely for the provision of products.”

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