Question:

Can we screen employees returning to work for COVID-19?

Answer:

Yes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 is allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it is a direct threat to others in the workplace. Therefore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may inquire about symptoms related to the virus, require self-reporting by employees, and take employees’ temperatures.

Known symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

As the medical community continues to learn more about COVID-19, additional symptoms could be added to this list. Employers can check this page for currently recognized symptoms.

If you decide to do screenings, make sure you screen all employees; otherwise you may find yourself in the middle of a discrimination claim. And remember that all information about employees’ health — including a lack of symptoms or temperature — must be kept confidential.