The White House coronavirus coordinator said that Biden's December 8 vaccine deadline for government contractors is 'not a cliff' at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Jeffrey Zients said of the deadline, which is when Biden all federal contractors have to be vaccinated by: 'Even once we hit those deadlines, we expect federal agencies and contractors will follow their standard HR processes and that, for any of the probably relatively small percent of employees that are not in compliance, they'll go through education, counseling, accommodations, and then enforcement.'

Federal workers should be vaccinated by a deadline of November 22. 

The statement means that employers with more than 100 workers will not have to fire unvaccinated employees in two month's time. Instead of immediate lay-offs there will be time for education, counseling and other measures before potentially ending employment.

The Biden administration's flexibility means that employers with more than 100 workers will not have to fire unvaccinated employees in two month's time. Instead of immediate lay-offs there will be time for education, counseling and other measures before potentially ending employment
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeffrey Zients (pictured) said that Biden's December 8 vaccine deadline is 'not a cliff' at a press briefing on Wednesday

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeffrey Zients (right) said that Biden's December 8 vaccine deadline is 'not a cliff' at a press briefing on Wednesday. The statement means that employers with more than 100 workers will not have to fire unvaccinated employees in two month's time. Instead of immediate lay-offs there will be time for education, counseling and other measures before potentially ending employment

Zients noted that the purpose of the deadline is to get more people vaccinated, not to serve as a punishment

Zients noted that the purpose of the deadline is to get more people vaccinated, not to serve as a punishment

Prior to the press briefing millions of workers were left believing they'd be jobless come December 9 unless they got a religious or medical exemption. 

 Zients added: 'These processes play out across weeks, not days. 

'And so, to be clear, we’re creating flexibility within the system. We’re offering people multiple opportunities to get vaccinated. There is not a cliff here.'

The coordinator was also sure to note that the purpose of the deadline, 'most importantly, is to get people vaccinated and protected, not to punish them'.


He also said that he does not expect any disruptions to the US economy as a result of the mandate.

He added: 'These processes play out across weeks not days.'

According to Zients a new emergency measure will also be finalized soon to ensure private sector workers at companies with 100 or more employees are fully vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 at least weekly although the exact date wasn't immediately clear.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said last Thursday they did not think the December 8 deadline would impact holiday travel or result in employees leaving.

Some airlines and industry-watchers initially feared an exodus of unvaccinated airline or government employees involved in travel just before the Christmas season.


Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly said last week: 'We want our employees to know that nobody is going to lose their job on December 9 if we're not perfectly in compliance... We're not going to fire anybody who doesn't get vaccinated.'

Meanwhile, American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker said he did not expect any employees to leave as a result of the vaccine mandate.


 

A group representing FedEx Corp, United Parcel Service Inc and other cargo carriers told the White House last week it would be virtually impossible to have 100 percent of their respective work forces vaccinated by December 8.

His statements came after it was revealed that just 68 percent of the US military is vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Many federal contractors have told employees that they risk losing their jobs if they are not vaccinated by December 8. Raytheon Technologies' Chief Executive Greg Hayes warned in a CNBC interview Tuesday the US aerospace and defense firm will lose 'several thousand' employees who refuse to take Covid-19 vaccines, as it prepares to meet the December 8 deadline.

On Wednesday Republican Senator Roger Wicker urged Biden to abandon the plan completely and said: 'We cannot afford to gut our transportation network of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of essential, good-paying jobs.'

Nationwide, about 191million Americans have been fully vaccinated - nearly 58 percent of the population, according to CDC data.  

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