The White House’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released new guidance this week calling on agencies to establish COVID-19 testing programs by Feb. 15 for Federal employees who are not fully vaccinated, including those with an approved or pending exemption.

The guidance says employees who work on-site should be tested weekly. Employees who work offsite, but come into contact with members of the public as part of their work, should also be tested on a weekly basis.

The new guidance says that employees who are non-compliant with the vaccination requirement and are currently “engaged in enforcement steps” should also be included in the COVID-19 testing program.

While the task force says that an agency’s testing program “generally does not need to include” contractor employees or fully vaccinated employees, that requirement may depend on the circumstances.

“For certain roles, functions, or work environments, an agency may determine that it is necessary that certain onsite contractor employees, certain employees regardless of their vaccination status, or certain employees and certain onsite contractor employees regardless of their vaccination status must participate in screening testing, given operational or administrative considerations associated with conducting screening testing for those roles, functions, or work environments,” the guidance says.

Agencies can determine if COVID-19 testing will be conducted at a Federal facility or offsite.

Federal employees or contractors in the testing program will not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test every time they come into their agency’s workplace, unless required by the agency. However, if they visit another agency they will need to show proof of a negative test administered within the past three days.

Employees who work remotely or who are on maximum telework will not need to participate in the testing program, but should they need to come into their agency’s workplace they will then need to show proof of a negative test within the last three days.

All employees who refuse to take a test or provide their test results may face “disciplinary measures,” and an agency may also “bar the employee from the agency workplace for the safety of others pending resolution of any disciplinary or other action the agency may pursue.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.