This blog was written by Brandon White, Director of Human Resources at Helpside. Brandon has more than a decade of experience, allowing him to make complicated employment situations and regulations approachable for small businesses.
Keeping your employees safe while at work is an essential part of running a successful business. Amidst the many negative impacts COVID-19 has had on our world is the threat of employees coming to work and spreading the virus throughout your facility. We often receive the question, “Am I allowed to test my employees for COVID-19?”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) requires that any mandatory medical test of employees be “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Applying this standard to the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may take screening steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19 because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others. Therefore, an employer may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before permitting them to enter the workplace and/or periodically to determine if their continued presence in the workplace poses a direct threat to others. According to the EEOC, testing administered by employers consistent with current CDC guidance will meet the ADA’s “business necessity” standard.
While testing your employees to determine if they currently have the virus is allowed, testing your employees to determine if they have had the virus previously is not. According to the CDC’s Interim Guidelines, antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.” Thus, requiring antibody testing before allowing employees to re-enter the workplace is not currently allowed under the ADA. Please note that an antibody test is different from a test to determine if someone has an active case of COVID-19 (i.e., a viral test), which is allowed.
If your employee has COVID-19, we recommend following the CDC’s guidance and temporarily not allowing this individual to continue to work within your facility. Employees may return to work once they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider. Other factors such as whether or not they may be eligible for paid leave under the FFCRA should be considered.
If you would like more information on navigating the complexities of COVID-19 in the workplace please reach out to your Helpside Human Resources team at Humanresources@helpside.com