“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” – Olympian Mark Spitz
Discussions have turned to how we safely return to work. On April 17, 2020, the EEOC updated its Technical Assistance Questions and Answers regarding COVID-19, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and other employment laws affecting employers with 15+ employees.
Disability-Related Inquiries & Medical Exams
What if an employee calls in sick?
Employers can ask employees regarding COVID-19 symptoms identified by the CDC or other public health authorities and reputable medical sources. Here are symptoms that fall within the current “safe category” of questions to ask employees about:
- Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, as well as gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Employers must keep a confidential record of questions and the employee’s responses in the employee’s medical folder.
Can I take my employee’s temperature?
Please note that an employee may have COVID-19 and not have a fever, and taking the temperature is a medical exam. Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged that a high temperature is a symptom, employers may measure body temperatures.
What if an employee becomes ill?
The employer can require:
- the employee to leave the worksite and remain at home during the duration of the illness.
- a doctor’s note or some other type of certifying note for an employee to return to duty.
Confidentiality of Medical Information
What is my responsibility to keep employee information confidential?
All employees’ medical information must be kept in a separate medical folder, including statements/questions about COVID-19. Employers must protect this sensitive information so there is limited access. It should not be kept in an employee’s personnel folder.
Do I log temperature checks?
If the employer takes daily temperature checks before entering the workplace, it must maintain the log results and maintain confidentiality of that information.
Staffing agencies or contractors may disclose to the employer the employee’s name who has the virus so the employer can determine who the employee had contact with in the workplace. Due to privacy reasons, you may not disclose who has the virus to co-workers, vendors or customers who may have been exposed to the virus by the employee.