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HR Quick Take: Home Repairs and COVID-19 - can I ask if someone is sick? - March 16, 2020

Q: My carpet cleaning business sends employees into people’s homes to clean on-site. Should I be asking if anyone in the home is ill?

A: In general, we try to avoid interfering with people’s privacy or inquiring about illness or medical status when we do work in their homes.

However, you do have an obligation under OSHA’s General Duty clause to ensure that your employees are entering a safe workplace. If there are reported COVID-19 cases in your county or there is an Iowa Department of Public Health or County Department of Public Health alert, you may need to ask if anyone within the home has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

You may also need to determine whether you should provide your employees with personal protective equipment (PPE). In some instances, you may choose not to provide service. Certain essential services as defined by Iowa law have a more complex assessment about providing home service, such as utilities, versus a service such as carpet cleaning, which is discretionary.

HR Quick Takes features client questions and answers from Iowa employment attorneys. If you have a question you’d like answered, email

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