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Federal Contractors

The Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance on implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042 while ensuring compliance with applicable court orders and injunctions, including those that are preliminary and may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation. For existing contracts or contract-like instruments (hereinafter “contracts”) that contain a clause implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042, the Government will take no action to enforce the clause implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042, absent further written notice from the agency, where the place of performance identified in the contract is in a U.S. state or outlying area subject to a court order prohibiting the application of requirements pursuant to the Executive Order (hereinafter, “Excluded State or Outlying Area”). In all other circumstances, the Government will enforce the clause, except for contractor employees who perform substantial work on or in connection with a covered contract in an Excluded State or Outlying Area, or in a covered contractor workplace located in an Excluded State or Outlying Area.

NOTE: FAQs related to the vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 are not being updated while an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction is in place. FAQs with out-of-date information have been removed at this time.

Q: How do covered contractors determine vaccination status of visitors to covered contractor workplaces?

A: Covered contractors should post signage at entrances to covered contractor workplaces providing information on safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals, including the protocols defined in the masking and physical distancing section in the Task Force’s Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors, and instruct individuals to follow the appropriate workplace safety protocols while at the covered contractor workplace. Covered contractors may take other reasonable steps, such as by communicating workplace safety protocols to visitors prior to their arrival at a covered contractor workplace or requiring all visitors to follow masking and physical distancing protocols for not fully vaccinated individuals.

Q: Is there sample signage that a covered contractor can post at entrances to covered contractor workplaces providing information on safety protocols?

A: Yes. Covered contractors should post signage at entrances to covered contractor workplaces providing information on safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals and instruct individuals to follow the appropriate workplace safety protocols while at the covered contractor workplace. Sample signage for areas of high or substantial levels of community transmission can be found here. Sample signage for areas of low or moderate levels of community transmission can be found here.

Q: Do covered contractors need to provide onsite vaccinations to their employees?

A: Covered contractors should ensure their employees are aware of convenient opportunities to be vaccinated. Although covered contractors may choose to provide vaccinations at their facilities or workplaces, given the widespread availability of vaccinations, covered contractors are not required to do so.

Q: If a covered contractor can access a covered contractor employee’s vaccination documentation, consistent with relevant privacy laws, does the covered contractor need to require the employee to show or provide documentation?

A: No. If, consistent with all relevant privacy laws, a covered contractor can access its employee’s vaccination documentation directly, such as when the contractor previously requested the employee to provide vaccination documentation, has existing documentation from an employee vaccination program, or can access information through a State’s immunization database, the covered contractor does not need to require its employee to show or provide documentation.

Q: What should a contractor employee do if a covered contractor employee has lost or does not have a copy of required vaccination documentation?

A: If covered contractor employees need new vaccination cards or copies of other documentation proof of vaccination, they should contact the vaccination provider site where they received their vaccine. Their provider should be able to provide them with new cards or documentation with up-to-date information about the vaccinations they have received. If the location where the covered contractor employees received their COVID-19 vaccine is no longer operating, the covered contractor employees should contact their State or local health department’s immunization information system (IIS) for assistance. Covered contractor employees should contact their State or local health department if they have additional questions about vaccination cards or vaccination records.

An attestation of vaccination by the covered contractor employee is not an acceptable substitute for documentation of proof of vaccination.

Q: Who is responsible for determining if a covered contractor employee must be provided an accommodation because of a disability or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance?

A: A covered contractor may be required to provide an accommodation to contractor employees who communicate to the covered contractor that they are not vaccinated for COVID-19, or that they cannot wear a mask, because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. A covered contractor should review and consider what, if any, accommodation it must offer. The contractor is responsible for considering, and dispositioning, such requests for accommodations regardless of the covered contractor employee’s place of performance. If the agency that is the party to the covered contract is a “joint employer” for purposes of compliance with the Rehabilitation Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, both the agency and the covered contractor should review and consider what, if any, accommodation they must offer.

Q: Do all requests for accommodation need to be resolved by the covered contractor by the time that covered contractor employees begin work on a covered contract or at a covered workplace?

A: No. The covered contractor may still be reviewing requests for accommodation as of the time that covered contractor employees begin work on a covered contract or at a covered workplace. While accommodation requests are pending, the covered contractor must require a covered contractor employee with a pending accommodation request to follow workplace safety protocols for individuals who are not fully vaccinated as specified in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors.

Q: If a covered contractor employee requests an accommodation, and that accommodation is denied by the covered contractor, how long should the contractor employee be afforded to be fully vaccinated?

A: Covered contractors should establish a timeline for a covered contractor employee whose request for an accommodation is denied to promptly become fully vaccinated.

Q: Is vaccination for COVID-19 recommended for people who are trying to get pregnant or might become pregnant in the future?

A: Yes. The CDC has stated that COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.

Q: Does the CDC recommend that an individual delay vaccination due to pregnancy?

A: The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to become pregnant now, or trying to become pregnant in the future. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, a covered contractor may allow a covered contractor employee to delay vaccination based on the contractor employee’s particular medical circumstances, consistent with the covered contractor’s process for reviewing delay requests.

Q: Can a covered contractor employee delay a COVID-19 vaccine because they have recently received another vaccine, such as the seasonal influenza vaccine?

A: COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day.

Q: Can a covered contractor employee who has received a heterologous primary vaccine series be considered fully vaccinated?

A: Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated ≥2 weeks after receipt of the last dose if they have received any combination of two doses of an FDA approved or authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 two-dose series. For these purposes, the second dose in a two dose heterologous series must have been received no earlier than 17 days (21 days with a 4-day grace period) after the first dose.

Q: Are covered contractor employees who have a prior COVID-19 infection required to be vaccinated?

A: Yes, covered contractor employees who have had a prior COVID-19 infection are required to be vaccinated. More information from CDC can be found here.

Q: Can a covered contractor accept a recent antibody test from a covered contractor employee to prove vaccination status?

A: No. A covered contractor cannot accept a recent antibody test from a covered contractor employee to prove vaccination status.

Q: Does the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors apply to outdoor contractor or subcontractor workplace locations?

A: Yes, the Task Force Guidance applies to contractor or subcontractor workplace locations that are outdoors.

Q: If a covered contractor employee is likely to be present during the period of performance for a covered contract on only one floor or a separate area of a building, site, or facility controlled by a covered contractor, do other areas of the building, site, or facility controlled by a covered contractor constitute a covered contractor workplace?

A: Yes, unless a covered contractor can affirmatively determine that none of its employees on another floor or in separate areas of the building will come into contact with a covered contractor employee during the period of performance of a covered contract. This would include affirmatively determining that there will be no interactions between covered contractor employees and non-covered contractor employees in those locations during the period of performance on a covered contract, including interactions through use of common areas such as lobbies, security clearance areas, elevators, stairwells, meeting rooms, kitchens, dining areas, and parking garages.

Q: If a covered contractor employee performs their duties in or at only one building, site, or facility on a campus controlled by a covered contractor with multiple buildings, sites, or facilities, are the other buildings, sites, or facility controlled by a covered contractor considered a covered contractor workplace?

A: Yes, unless a covered contractor can affirmatively determine that none of its employees in or at one building, site, or facility will come into contact with a covered contractor employee during the period of performance of a covered contract. This would include affirmatively determining that there will be no interactions between covered contractor employees and non-covered contractor employees in those locations during the period of performance on a covered contract, including interactions through use of common areas such as lobbies, security clearance areas, elevators, stairwells, meeting rooms, kitchens, dining areas, and parking garages.

Q: Are the workplace safety protocols enumerated in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors the same irrespective of whether the work is performed at a covered contractor workplace or at a Federal workplace?

A: Yes. The Task Force Guidance applies to all covered contractor employees and to all contractor or subcontractor workplace locations. While at a Federal workplace, covered contractor employees must also comply with any additional agency workplace safety requirements for that workplace. Because covered contractor employees working on a covered contract need to be fully vaccinated after January 18, 2022, covered contractor employees who work only at a Federal workplace need to be fully vaccinated by that date as well, unless legally entitled to an accommodation.

Q: How does the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors apply to covered contractor employees who are authorized under the covered contract to perform work remotely from their residence?

A: An individual working on a covered contract from their residence is a covered contractor employee, and must comply with the vaccination requirement for covered contractor employees, even if the employee never works at either a covered contractor workplace or Federal workplace during the performance of the contract. A covered contractor employee’s residence is not a covered contractor workplace, so while in the residence the individual need not comply with requirements for covered contractor workplaces, including those related to masking and physical distancing, even while working on a covered contract.

Q: By when must the requirements of Executive Order 14042 be reflected in contracts?

A: Section 6 of the order lays out a phase-in of the requirements for covered contracts as follows:

  • Contracts awarded prior to October 15 where performance is ongoing – the requirements must be incorporated at the point at which an option is exercised or an extension is made.
  • New contracts – the requirements must be incorporated into contracts awarded on or after November 14. Between October 15 and November 14, agencies must include the clause in the solicitation and are encouraged to include the clause in contracts awarded during this time period but are not required to do so unless the solicitation for such contract was issued on or after October 15.

Q: Must the requirements of Executive Order 14042 be flowed down to all lower-tier subcontractors and, if so, who is responsible for flowing the clause down?

A: Yes. The requirements in the order apply to subcontractors at all tiers, except for subcontracts solely for the provision of products. The prime contractor must flow the clause down to first-tier subcontractors; higher-tier subcontractors must flow the clause down to the next lower-tier subcontractor, to the point at which subcontract requirements are solely for the provision of products.

Q: Does the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors apply to small businesses?

A: Yes, the requirement to comply with the Task Force Guidance applies equally to covered contractors regardless of whether they are a small business. This broad application of COVID-19 guidance will more effectively decrease the spread of COVID-19, which, in turn, will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at workplaces where they are performing work for the Federal Government.

Q: What steps are being taken to promote consistent application of the requirements of Executive Order 14042 across agencies?

A: The FAR Council will conduct a rulemaking to amend the FAR to include a clause that requires covered contractors performing under FAR-based contracts to comply with the Task Force guidance for contractor and subcontractor workplace locations. Prior to rulemaking, the FAR Council has developed a clause and recommended that agencies exercise their authority to deviate from the FAR using the procedures set forth in subpart 1.4. Agencies responsible for contracts and contract-like instruments that are not subject to the FAR, such as concession contracts, will be responsible for developing appropriate guidance by October 8, 2021 to incorporate requirements into their covered instruments entered into on or after October 15, 2021.

Q: Can agencies incorporate vaccination requirements into contracts that are not covered by Executive Order 14042 (Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Contractors)?

A: Yes. Consistent with applicable law, agencies are strongly encouraged to incorporate a clause requiring compliance with the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors into contracts that are not covered or directly addressed by Executive Order 14042 because the contract is under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold as defined in section 2.101 of the FAR or is a contract or subcontract for the manufacturing of products. Agencies are also strongly encouraged to incorporate a clause requiring compliance with the Task Force Guidance into existing contracts and contract-like instruments prior to the date upon which the order requires inclusion of the clause.

Q: If the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force updates its Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors to add new requirements, do those requirements apply to existing contracts?

A: Yes. Covered contractors are required to, for the duration of the contract, comply with all Task Force Guidance for contractor or subcontractor workplace locations, including any new Guidance where the OMB Director approves the Guidance and determines that adherence to the Guidance will promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting. The Task Force and OMB plan to ensure any workplace safety protocols reflect what is necessary to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Q: What constitutes work performed “in connection with” a covered contract?

A: Employees who perform duties necessary to the performance of the covered contract, but who are not directly engaged in performing the specific work called for by the covered contract, such as human resources, billing, and legal review, perform work in connection with a Federal Government contract.

Q: Do the workplace safety protocols in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors apply to covered contractor employees who perform work outside the United States?

A: No. The workplace safety protocols in the Task Force Guidance do not apply to covered contractor employees who only perform work outside the United States or its outlying areas, as those terms are defined in section 2.101 of the FAR.

Q: If a corporate affiliate of a covered contractor does not otherwise qualify as a covered contractor, are the employees of that affiliate considered covered contractor employees subject to COVID-19 workplace safety protocols for Federal contractors established through Task Force Guidance?

A: For purposes of Task Force Guidance, business concerns, organizations, or individuals are affiliates of each other if, directly or indirectly: (i) either one controls or has the power to control the other; or (ii) a third party controls or has the power to control both.

Indicia of control include, but are not limited to, interlocking management or ownership, identity of interests among family members, shared facilities and equipment, or common use of employees.

An employee of a corporate affiliate of a covered contractor is considered a covered contractor employee if the employee performs work at a covered contractor workplace.

Q: If the workplace where a covered contractor’s employees perform work on or in connection with a covered contract is a location owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by a corporate affiliate of a covered contractor that does not otherwise qualify as a covered contractor under Task Force guidance, is the workplace considered a covered contractor workplace?

A: For purposes of Task Force Guidance, business concerns, organizations, or individuals are affiliates of each other if, directly or indirectly: (i) either one controls or has the power to control the other; or (ii) a third party controls or has the power to control both.

Indicia of control include, but are not limited to, interlocking management or ownership, identity of interests among family members, shared facilities and equipment, or common use of employees.

If any employee of a covered contractor working on or in connection with a covered contract is likely to be present during the period of performance for a covered contract at a workplace controlled by a corporate affiliate of that covered contractor, that workplace is considered a covered contractor workplace.

Q: What steps should a covered contractor take if a covered contractor employee refuses to be vaccinated?

A: 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. 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.

One model for enforcement among employees with respect to non-compliance with a vaccination requirement is that being followed by Federal agencies. 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. Removal occurs only after continued noncompliance. Guidance for Federal agencies is that employees should not be placed on administrative leave while the agency is pursuing an adverse action for refusal to be vaccinated but will be required to follow safety protocols for employees who are not fully vaccinated when reporting to agency worksites.

During the time period of enforcement, the 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.

An agency may determine that a covered contractor employee who refuses to be vaccinated in accordance with a contractual requirement pursuant to EO 14042 will be denied entry to a Federal workplace, consistent with the agency’s workplace safety protocols.

Q: What steps should an agency take if a covered contractor does not comply with the requirements in the Task Force’s Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors?

A: Covered contractors are expected to comply with all requirements set forth in their contract. Where covered contractors are working in good faith and encounter challenges with compliance with COVID-19 workplace safety protocols, the agency contracting officer should work with them to address these challenges. If a covered contractor is not taking steps to comply, significant actions, such as termination of the contract, should be taken.

Q: Does this clause apply in States or localities that seek to prohibit compliance with any of the workplace safety protocols set forth in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors?

A: Yes. These requirements are promulgated pursuant to Federal law and supersede any contrary State or local law or ordinance. Additionally, nothing in the Task Force Guidance shall excuse noncompliance with any applicable State law or municipal ordinance establishing more protective workplace safety protocols than those established under the Task Force Guidance.

Q: Can a covered contractor comply with workplace safety requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including pursuant to any current or forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard related to COVID-19, instead of the requirements of the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors?

A: No. Covered contractors must comply with the requirements set forth in the Task Force Guidance regardless of whether they are subject to other workplace safety standards.

Q: What is the prime contractor’s responsibility for verifying that subcontractors are adhering to the mandate?

A: The prime contractor is responsible for ensuring that the required clause is incorporated into its first-tier subcontracts in accordance with the implementation schedule set forth in section 6 of Executive Order 14042. When the clause is incorporated into a subcontract, a subcontractor is required to comply with the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors and the workplace safety protocols detailed herein. Additionally, first-tier subcontractors are expected to flow the clause down to their lower-tier subcontractors in similar fashion so that accountability for compliance is fully established throughout the Federal contract supply chain for covered subcontractor employees and workplaces at all tiers through application of the clause.

Q: May the prime contractor assume the subcontractor is complying with the clause?

A: Yes, unless the prime contractor has credible evidence otherwise.

UpdatedQ: Is symptom screening required before contractor employees enter a Federal facility?

A: If any individuals, including contractor employees, have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then they should not enter a Federal workplace.

To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to require that all contractor employees working on-site at an agency workplace complete symptom screening before entering a Federal facility. Symptom screening can be self-conducted and does not need to be verified by agency personnel. In developing these tools, agencies may, for example, adapt the screening tool developed by CDC.

UpdatedQ: Are contractor employees who are enrolled in an agency screening testing program limited in their ability to work onsite at an agency workplace in between tests?

A: To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to not limit the ability of contractor employees who are enrolled in an agency screening testing program to work onsite at an agency workplace between screening tests, if such onsite contractor employees have met any applicable screening testing requirement, do not have COVID-19 symptoms, and are not otherwise recommended to isolate or quarantine based on agency protocols. The agency would still need to instruct such onsite contractor employees to comply with all relevant agency safety protocols.

Agencies should develop procedures for addressing circumstances in which onsite contractor employees enrolled in an agency screening testing program miss their required screening test, which may include restricting the individual’s access to worksites if they have not obtained a test within a period of time specified by the agency.

An onsite contractor employee’s failure to comply with screening testing requirements may result in that individual being denied entry to a Federal facility. Such circumstances do not relieve the contractor from meeting all contractual requirements.

UpdatedQ: Should agencies inquire regarding the vaccination status of onsite contractor employees?

A: To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, when the COVID-19 Community Level is MEDIUM or HIGH in a county where a Federal facility is located, agencies would need to ask about the vaccination status of contractor employees working onsite at that facility for purposes of applying agency safety protocols. Onsite contractor employees should attest to the truthfulness of the response they provide. If an onsite contractor employee chooses not to provide a response, the agency would need to treat the contractor employee as not fully vaccinated for purposes of agency safety protocols. In requesting this information, agencies should comply with any applicable Federal laws, including requirements under the Privacy Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act.

UpdatedQ: Should onsite contractor employees provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test?

A: To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, when the COVID-19 Community Level is MEDIUM or HIGH in a county where a Federal facility is located, agencies would need to require that contractor employees working onsite at that facility who are not fully vaccinated or who decline to provide information about their vaccination status be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test from within the previous 3 days. If a contractor employee is regularly tested pursuant to an agency testing program, then they do not need to be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test from within the previous 3 days when in the Federal facility unless required by the agency testing program.

UpdatedQ: How should an agency ask onsite contractor employees about their vaccination status?

A: When the COVID-19 Community Level is MEDIUM or HIGH in a county where a Federal facility is located, contractor employees working onsite at that facility should be provided with the Certification of Vaccination form (or an agency-specific certification form approved by OMB) when they enter the facility.

Unless an agency has an existing system of records notice that permits it to collect and maintain this information on its contractor employees, and an agency-specific certification form approved by OMB, agencies should direct onsite contractor employees to complete the Certification of Vaccination form and keep it with them during their time when in a Federal facility—they may be asked to show the form when entering the Federal facility and/or to a Federal employee who oversees their work.

To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, when the COVID-19 Community Level is MEDIUM or HIGH in a county where a Federal facility is located, agencies would need to require that contractor employees working onsite at that facility who are not fully vaccinated or who decline to disclose their vaccination status should be able to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from within the previous 3 days. If a contractor employee is enrolled in an agency screening testing program, then they do not need to be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test from within the previous 3 days when in the Federal facility unless required by the agency screening testing program. At GSA-controlled facilities, it is the responsibility of the occupant agency hosting the onsite contractor employee to ensure that they have the appropriate documentation.

Agencies may email the Certification of Vaccination form (or an agency-specific certification form approved by OMB) to contractor employees in advance of their time onsite or utilize a tool or application to share a form with contractor employees and enable them to easily complete it. The collection, storage, or maintenance of attestation disclosure forms may implicate the Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act. Agencies should not maintain Certification of Vaccination forms from contractor employees, and may maintain agency-specific certification forms only when the agency has a system of records notice that covers their collection of this information from onsite contractor employees.

Q: What type of negative COVID-19 test result must an onsite contractor employee who is not fully vaccinated show documentation of in order to enter a federal building?

A: Agencies may determine what types of tests an onsite contractor employee who is not subject to a contractual requirement to be vaccinated can show documentation of in order to enter a federal building, provided that the tests are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to detect current infection and produce a dated result.