Exemptions and Accommodation Requirements for the Federal Contractor Vaccine Employment Mandate

According to the guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”), all federal federal contractors must be “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19 by December 8th, 2021.

Or meet accommodation requirements.

You may be asking; “Can I be exempt from the vaccine if I am pregnant, or trying to become pregnant?”

“Can I be exempt from the Covid vaccine requirements for religious reasons?”

Whatever your reason for seeking a Covid Vaccine exemption or accommodation may be, what do the rules say?

Let’s take a look!

Download a copy of the “Task Force” Guidance Here

Exemptions and Accommodations Requirements for Covid Vaccine

So what are the federal Covid vaccine exemptions provided in the Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors?

Look, it’s simple. The guidance is very clear and straightforward…

Contractors subject to the federal guidance may be required to provide accommodations to employees who can not be vaccinated for a:

  • Medical reason or disability,
  • Or “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.”

“A covered contractor may be required to provide an accommodation to covered contractor employees who communicate to the covered contractor that they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.”

-Guidance provided by “Task Force”

How should contractors handle medical accommodation requests?

While this is not legal advice, and you should consider talking with a lawyer if you have any questions…

According to the governments own guidance, medical accommodations or exemptions are to be handled as a “disability accommodation”.

Further one should keep in mind that they need not disclose the reason for seeking a medical accommodation. Your health is protected by HIPAA regulations and employers are required to follow the regulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other pertinent state and federal laws.

The guidance reads:

“A covered contractor should review and consider what, if any, accommodation it must offer. Requests for “medical accommodation” or “medical exceptions” should be treated as requests for a disability accommodation.”

-Guidance provided by “Task Force”

Can I be exempt if I am pregnant or trying to get pregnant?

Again, one does not necessarily need to disclose the reason they are seeking a medical exemption. And you may not be required to by law.

Fortunately this question is also addressed by the guidance provided the “Task Force” FAQ page.

“a covered contractor may allow a covered contractor employee to delay vaccination based on the contractor employee’s particular medical circumstances”

-Guidance provided by “Task Force”

Remember: If this is your reason for seeking a medical exemption, and you tell your employer the reason. They may only provide a temporary exemption.

How should contractors handle a religious accommodation request?

Here’s the deal, the guidance by the “Task Force” does not answer this question directly. This is likely due too the fact that religious exemption requirements are subject to many different laws.

As a result, the “Task Force” likely doesn’t know how employers should handle religious exemptions legally.

Not wanting to make themselves liable for any guidance that violates an individual rights to freely exercise their religion, they simply leave the decision to the employer. So the employer becomes liable if they do not give a religious exemption when one is required by law.

Only You Can Defend Your Rights

Look, it’s you that has to stand up and defend your rights. No one else can do it for you. And if you are ever uncertain about whether or not an exemption applies to you, it’s likely your employer is to.

When your employer violates your rights, the onus is on them, not the federal government.

It may be helpful to remind them of this if they are uncertain whether to allow you a medical or religious exemption.

Seeking Covid Vaccine Exemptions and Accommodations

That is about all the information I could find from the federal government’s guidance on the federal vaccine mandate rollout.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of what exemptions do exist.

Every situation is unique, and it’s on you to figure out what your employer needs to do to obey the law.

I’ll leave you with this.

At the end of the day, the government derives it’s powers from the consent of the governed. So it really comes down to what you consent to.