Can you check employee’s temperatures at work?
Taking an employee’s temperature would be a prohibited “medical examination” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) unless the exam was job-related and consistent with business necessity. That means the employee’s ability to perform essential functions of the job will be impaired by a medical condition or the employee will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition. In “normal” times, these are very high burdens for the employer to meet. These obviously aren’t “normal” times.
Because of the COVID-19, and the interest in limiting community spread of the disease, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has eased the usual restrictions on medical examinations and stated employers might take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Checking employees’ body temperatures before allowing them into the workplace is one of those precautions.
Virginia is the first state to Mandate Emergency COVID-19 Rule for Employers
In July 2020, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry voted to implement strict work-place standards in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Part of the mandate requires “Preventive Measures.” It states, “employers must establish and implement a system for self-assessment and screening for COVID-19 signs and symptoms and implement procedures that will prevent sick employees and other persons from infecting healthy employees.“
Important for employers to consider:
- Many individuals diagnosed with coronavirus do not have an elevated temperature. Thus, taking employees’ temperatures may not accurately identify employees who have or may have the virus.
- The results of the testing are medical information about the employee, and the employer must comply with ADA confidentiality requirements concerning that information.
- Employers who elect to take employees’ temperatures should do so on a nondiscriminatory basis – this may include an all-or-none approach or limiting testing only to those employees who are required to work in closer quarters or come in contact with clients or customers.
- Employers should set a temperature threshold over which employees will not be allowed to enter the workplace. Based on other guidance from the Centers For Disease Control (“CDC”), a temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a “fever” and, therefore, maybe a reasonable standard for decision-making.
- Employers should create a policy and practice for such testing, including the consequences for employees who have a high temperature, and communicate that policy to employees before the screening begins.
- Employers should consider some type of temperature monitoring system at the entrance of their facility, similar to these tablets.
Brochure of Temperature Tablet
Best Practices and Procedures
Whatever method you choose for your office, make sure you check your local laws and consult with an HR firm, like Warren Whitney, or with your lawyer.
The CDC is still recommending the use of”
- Social distancing
- Regular handwashing
- Wearing a mask in groups of people
- Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces
- Working remotely
For more information on Temperature Checking Tablets, contact our office by filling out this form or calling our office.
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Some information supplied from General Counsel, P.C. Permission to use from Merrit Green