In renewed guidance issued on Monday morning, the Biden Administration said it would be up to the contractors how they wish to deal with workers who decline to follow the President’s order to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.
“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,” the guidance reads. “This may include the covered contractor using its usual processes for enforcement of workplace policies, such as those addressed in the contractor’s employee handbook or collective bargaining agreements.”
He also dictated that businesses with more than 100 employees also have to enforce vaccine conditions. However, for those companies, proof of regular negative COVID-19 tests can be used in place of a worker getting vaccinated.
The guidance notes that one model on which contractors can base their non-compliance policies is that of the federal government.
“Guidance for Federal agencies is to utilize an enforcement policy that encourages compliance, including through a limited period of counseling and education, followed by additional disciplinary measures if necessary,” the guidance said, adding that removal of an employee only happens after continued objection.
Federal contractors will not be required to provide proof of their companies’ vaccination rates by the Dec. 8 deadline, a Senior Administration Official told CNBC. However, maintained noncompliance with the mandate could end in businesses losing Federal contracts.
News of the increased flexibility comes after some companies and business groups have objected to the notion that all Federal contractors must have their employees vaccinated without the testing exemption.
Eric Hoplin, president and CEO of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, recently suggested if the contractor rules are executed, thousands of workers will be laid off, and the supply chain crisis will get much worse.
“NAW urges that the Executive Order’s implementation be revised to avoid this calamity and provide alternatives to promote safety, including testing, and consider a short-term delay to provide time to carry out these changes and to avoid further supply chain disruptions in the coming months,” he wrote.
Ideas that have been floated include holding the contractor mandate, providing a testing exemption, or dismissing the order entirely. The concerns about the contractor mandate come as the United States gets closer to a busy holiday season that is already expected to be hampered by supply chain delays.