On September 9, President Biden signed an executive order that will significantly impact contractors on federal projects. The White House Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors requires federal agencies to include a provision in all contracts executed after October 15, 2021 related to COVID-19 protection. The new contract provisions will be included in federal government projects, as well as projects funded by the federal government, such as through HUD or DOT. The full COVID safety requirements and contract provisions are set to be published on or before September 24, 2021 and will likely include some form of vaccine or testing mandate for employees. As the regulations are published, it will be necessary to include a flow down provision in any subcontracts for federal projects requiring lower tier subcontractors to abide by the new regulation.
President Biden has also tasked OSHA with creating a new rule that will apply to employers with over 100 employees, regardless of whether they are performing government work. The rule is still being drafted, but will generally require that employees either get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID tests. The rule will also require employers to offer paid time off to employees for the purpose of scheduling a vaccination and recovering from any side-effects.
The extension of mandatory requirements to companies will result in commercial contractors being forced to comply as a condition of performing work for these companies. There will likely be a corresponding impact to labor and productivity, and construction companies are encouraged to consider contractual approaches to address this impact.