Workplace temperature screening has become popular as employers across the globe are faced with the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While it is a change from normalcy, this measure, along with face masks, hand-washing, and social distancing is intended to protect the health of both the workforce and the public.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, taking employee temperatures would have been a violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), however, new guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission now alleviates those concerns and allows employers to ask employees if they have experienced any coronavirus symptoms and to check their temperatures. Some states have mandated the new guideline, and employers must check employee temperatures every day. Measures beyond temperature checking such as requiring employees to undergo medical examinations are still prohibited and protected under the ADA.
The most common form of workplace testing is measuring employee’s body temperature by utilizing a temperature gun or forehead thermometer. If the test is not invasive, employers are not required to obtain written consent to take employees body temperatures during a pandemic. Catching an elevated temperature early on mitigates the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus in the workplace. Employers must maintain both federal and state laws that recognize employee privacy rights including a medical condition or personal health information.
Temperature screenings, whether done at work or by employees at home, can be an important precaution to protect workers and the workplace.