Federal Employees News Digest

Contractor vax deadline on hold

The Biden administration has hit a potential major snag in its push to use mandates as a means to quickly raise the proportion of Americans—especially working Americans—who are fully vaccinated. 

The White House and top health officials are placing great hope in the mandates—as they express concern that, although slowly rising, only around 60% of the total U.S. population (including roughly 70% of adults) is fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the Delta variant of COVID continues to bounce among regions in furious outbreaks, in recent weeks killing between 1,000 and 2,000 people per day

Twice in the last two weeks a federal appeals court affirmed a stay on one of the key vaccine mandates promulgated by the White House, the broadest one, intended to apply to all private businesses employing 100 or more employees. 

Just days prior to the stay, in the face of growing regional resistance and delays the administration had signaled some flexibility, having announced a vaccine deadline extension—specifically, the vaccination deadline for employees of companies that do business with the federal government was to have been pushed back several weeks, to Jan. 4, 2022. 

If and when this federal mandate is permitted to go forward, it will be among those managed according to publicly disclosed plans from offices within the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), among others.

Prior to the stay, over 100 million working people had been scheduled to come under one of the handful of federal mandates issued by the administration—but, for the moment, that number could be pared significantly. For FEND’s audience, principally this means workers who would fall under the direct federal employee mandate, the federal contractor mandate or the HHS health worker mandate. It should be noted that even before the stay, some workers under these mandates could, if eligible, avail themselves of alternative options to vaccination (for example, federal contractors have the option of submitting to weekly testing.)

Federal employees take note: Neither the federal court stay nor any announced extensions to deadlines apply to you. Those employed directly by federal agencies and departments remain subject to the original mandate and the original Nov. 22 deadline. Hence, feds without a legitimate exception or “reasonable accommodation” must be “fully vaccinated” and in compliance by the deadline. 

2021 Digital Almanac

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