Over the last few weeks, we have fielded many calls from employers about screening employees, including taking temperatures before allowing employees to begin work. Some of the most common questions are listed below. Note, this information should not be used by employers in the healthcare or other sensitive industries who must comply with different sets of regulations.
Question: I am strictly enforcing social distancing of 6 feet between employees (in the office and/or on the job site) at all times. Do I still need to be doing employee screening?
A: Yes. Best practices mandate employee screening for all employees who are not working from their homes/remotely. Remember, employers have an obligation under OSHA’s General Duty clause to ensure a safe workplace. Thus, employers should implement a health screening policy that includes a written employee screening policy/questionnaire on which the screening results can be recorded.
Alternatively, and in particular for employees who work out at the job site and not in the office, the employer’s policy may allow employees to take their own temperatures and record their answers to the screening questionnaire each morning, and then provide the results/weekly report to their employer.
Question: What is the best method, as well as recommended guidelines, for taking employee temperatures?
A: Employers should remember the following regarding the taking of temperatures:
- Conduct the employee screening, including the taking of temperatures, in a private room/area.
- Temporal temperatures should be taken, not oral temperatures.
- Train the person conducting the screening on the screening procedures as well as their duty of confidentiality towards fellow employees.
- Record the temperatures and keep the records in a confidential location for at least two years.
Question: My employee is refusing to have his taken temperature taken - what can I do?
A: Generally speaking, an employee’s refusal to abide by the employer’s policy of daily health screenings and the taking of temperatures is a disciplinary (and OSHA) issue, and should be handled appropriately as you would other disciplinary issues. In particular, the employer could prevent that employee from working due to the violation of the employer’s health screening policy.
A possible exception may exist if the basis for the employee’s refusal is a religious, disability-related, or another protected reason.
We will continue to post answers to the questions we receive from employers on our Coronavirus/COVID-19 Legal Resources page. Please reach out to your attorney if you have a question.
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