New guidance released by the White House on Monday suggests that federal contractors will have significant leeway in enforcing President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Federal contractors such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Airlines, IBM, UPS, and many more employ a significant number of Americans. The new guidance, released on the Safer Federal Workforce website, provides flexibility for those companies to determine how to enforce the mandate.
“A covered contractor should determine the appropriate means of enforcement with respect to its employee at a covered contractor workplace who refuses to be vaccinated and has not been provided, or does not have a pending request for, an accommodation,” according to the guidelines.
On Sept. 9, Biden announced mandates for federal workers, federal contractors, and most health care staff. Those mandates differ from the forthcoming mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees stipulating that workers either get the vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Federal contractors have no option to submit testing, and the only method by which workers can opt out is by seeking a medical or religious exemption.
“A covered contractor must ensure the covered contractor employee at a covered contractor workplace is following all workplace safety protocols for individuals who are not fully vaccinated,” the guidance also says.
And a federal agency “may determine that a covered contractor employee who refuses to be vaccinated in accordance with a contractual requirement pursuant to [Biden’s executive order] will be denied entry to a Federal workplace, consistent with the agency’s workplace safety protocols,” it says.
For federal workers who don’t want to get the vaccine, “a limited period of counseling and education, followed by additional disciplinary measures” may be necessary, according to the White House. “Removal occurs only after continued noncompliance.”
Several companies that have contracts with the federal government are considering ending their agreements ahead of a Dec. 8 deadline.
Bill Sullivan, the vice president of the American Trucking Associations, suggested in an interview over the weekend that some firms likely won’t follow the mandate and will instead just drop their contracts with the government and explained that the potential loss of workers would be too great. Should those companies leave their agreements, it will be hard for the federal government to move military vehicles, transport the National Guard, or make it more difficult to transport food to troops around the United States.