Many employers are wondering how they can protect their employees from the spread of COVID-19 once they’re allowed to return to work. This is causing many employers to consider taking employee temperatures as a precaution upon entering the workplace. Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local health authorities have acknowledged community spreading of COVID-19 and issued precautions, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever. If an employer requires all employees to have a daily temperature check before entering the workplace, the employer may keep a log of results. It’s important to maintain the confidentiality of that information. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all medical information about a particular employee be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file, thus limiting access to this confidential information. An employer may store all medical information related to COVID-19 in existing medical files. This includes an employee’s statement that they have the disease or suspect they have the disease, or the employer’s notes or other documentation from questioning an employee about symptoms.
If an employer conducts employee temperature testing, they should comply
with all official rules including, but not limited to, the ADA and Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Communicate the plan to take employee temperatures well in
advance and explain why.
- Be sure employees understand the implications of such a test (i.e., a
high temperature means being sent home).
- Have a set temperature threshold and stick to it.
- Consider using no-touch thermometers.
- Utilize properly trained medical staff or facilitators to administer the
- Make sure the temperature checking stations are far enough from the
workplace entrance and have proper social distancing setups.
- Maintain proper disinfecting procedures at the testing station and
within the workplace as a whole.
The CDC’s fever measurement is 100.4F. Employers should consider using that as the threshold for when to bar an employee from entering the workplace.
Speak with Dansig for more workplace guidance.