White House issues guidance on vaccine mandate for federal contractors

September 27, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The White House issued guidance last week that would require most federal contractors and subcontractors to be vaccinated from COVID-19 by Dec. 8.

The guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force is broad and does not include a vaccination exemption for the trucking industry.

Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of government affairs, advises truck drivers who work as a federal contractor to contact the federal entity they are contracted with for further guidance on the need to get a vaccine.

“The guidance issued will apply to a wide variety of companies and individuals who conduct business as federal contractors,” Grimes said. “There are no exemptions for any industries, including trucking. Be advised that the executive order generally only covers businesses that enter into, extend, or renew contracts on or after Oct. 15 and for contracts valued above $250,000.

“If you work as a federal contractor, please check with the federal entity you are under contract with for any specific questions regarding the guidance. In most cases, federal contractor employees will need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.”

OOIDA is continuing to review the guidance and is in communication with the Department of Transportation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Small Business Administration regarding the potential implementation of any mandate.

Executive order on vaccine mandate

On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced COVID-19 vaccination mandates, which involved federal contractors and companies with 100 or more employees. On Sept. 24, the federal task force provided clarification on the federal contractor portion of the mandate.

OSHA still has not released a rule to provide more clarification on the 100-employee rule.

It is still unclear whether or not employee truck drivers will be included in the vaccine mandate.

Grimes said earlier this month that it is possible truck drivers will be viewed differently than employees at an office building or warehouse with more than 100 workers.

“Company drivers are a little different,” Grimes said. “They’re not spending the majority of their time in the workplace with other people. They’re spending most of their time by themselves or with one passenger in a team driver situation.”

Avoiding disruptions in the supply chain and improving truck driver retention have been priorities of the Biden administration in recent months.

It is possible that the administration will try to avoid further disruptions to the supply chain by potentially exempting many truck drivers from the 100-employee mandate. Throughout the pandemic, there have been various exemptions made for the transportation workforce and truck drivers because they are deemed to be essential workers.

“I think the government is going to make sure the transportation workforce and the trucking industry is going to be able to run as efficiently as possible,” Grimes said. “We’ve seen supply chain disruptions throughout the course of this year. They want to minimize that as much as they can, so we will wait and see what the details will be.” LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.