Can You Take an Employee’s Temperature? And Other EEOC Guidelines Regarding Pandemic

Each day, the effects of COVID-19 grow in their impact on our workforces and our businesses. No matter your industry, employee safety is paramount. So in this moment of uncertainty, what can you do as an employer to ensure that you are not only protecting your employees but also staying on the right side of labor laws? Below are some guidelines promulgated by the EEOC for ADA-covered employers during the pandemic:

What information are employers allowed to request from employees regarding a potential illness?

  • You can ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, or shortness of breath. Be sure to maintain all collected information as part of a confidential file.

Can an employer take an employee’s temperature?

  • Yes, you may take an employee’s body temperature to try to ward off the spread of COVID-19. 

Can employers require employees to stay home?

  • Yes. 

Can employers require doctor’s notes for employees returning to work?

  • Yes, because a request for a fitness for duty certification generally is not disability-related, or, in the case of this pandemic, may be justified under the ADA standards for disability-related inquiries. 

Are there precautions employers can take when hiring new employees?

  • You may make conditional contingent upon screening for COVID-19 (as long as you do this for all applicants). 
  • Screenings may include requiring medical exams after making a conditional offer. 
  • If you find that a hired person is positive for COVID-19, because he or she cannot safely enter the workplace, you can withdraw the offer of employment. 

Although there are currently more questions than there are answers, we at Moye White are here to help you through this time with practical advice that you can implement right away.  Please check back on our site as we will be providing consistent updates on managing the effects of COVID-19. 

For specific questions, please reach out to Stephanie Loughner or Becky DeCook.