Many business owners and managers are thinking about what a return to work will look like during COVID-19. Key concerns, of course, are safeguarding the workplace and protecting employees from infection.
In the past, employers could not conduct medical tests or even ask about employees’ medical conditions. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued new rules allowing employers to obtain medical information and test people for COVID-19 as a condition to returning to the workplace.
In this new operating environment, temperature checks and employee health screenings are important tools to create virus-free workplaces. They may also be required. Five states–New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington and Michigan–require healthcare workers to conduct daily self-screening and temperature checks before they report to work. We expect other states to follow suit.
5 FAQs About Screening Protocols
As we work with our partners to address ways to minimize the risk of exposure, here are some of the most frequently asked questions around monitoring employee health and wellness during the pandemic:
- Can you ask employees if they have COVID-19?
According to new EEOC rules, employers can ask questions like: Do you have symptoms of COVID-19?; Have you been tested for COVID-19?; and Do you have or have you had COVID-19? Employers can also ask employees who report feeling ill at work, or who call in sick, questions about their symptoms to determine if they have (or may have) COVID-19. Some symptoms to screen for include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste, or sore throat.
- What questions can’t you ask?
Employers should not ask if family members have COVID-19 or common symptoms. Better questions are whether an employee has had contact with anyone with COVID-19, or has symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- Do all employees need to be tested?
According to EEOC guidelines, employers must either test all employees, or, if only certain employees are tested, a reasonable reason is needed—such as testing employees with persistent coughs or with other symptoms associated with the virus.
- What if an employee does not want to participate in temperature or wellness checks?
According to EEOC guidance, employees who decline to answer health-related questions, or refuse testing, do not have to be allowed into the workplace.
- What if an employee does not answer health-related questions honestly?
Make sure you are in compliance with EEOC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workplace regulations and regulations in your state or region to minimize your risk. Employee education and outreach is key so everyone understands the importance of testing and how it supports a safe workplace.
Dina is ready to help you create a plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure in your workplace. Our employee wellness and health screening solutions are live in 17 states and we’re managing nearly 10,000 daily health screenings. Interested in learning more? Sign up here for regular news and updates.