Taking their temperatures

How to implement temperature checks for employees (in the COVID-19 Pandemic)

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many local and national guidelines now recommend taking employees’ temperatures before allowing them to work/interact with customers and goods. But since such “medical tests” were usually off-limits, employers have many questions about how to implement them.

First, it is important to obtain a contact-less (infrared) thermometer, and make sure the employee conducting the tests is trained in its use, privacy issues, and provided adequate PPE for the close contact with others. To the extent several employees are starting work at once and will be lining up for these checks, ensure there is adequate distance between them. Additionally, in light of recent case law (Frlekin v. Apple) about time spent waiting for and undergoing required procedures being compensable, it is safest to have employees clock in prior to lining up/undergoing the temperature checks. It is recommended that the employee have somewhere to clock in prior to the screening where they don’t have to come into contact with a lot of people or use shared devices/equipment in order to do so--for example if there is a shared terminal where people clock in or if the location to punch in is in a location where the employee has to walk all the way through multiple departments to get to the time clock, etc. If there is no good alternative, the employee could wait until they are screened to clock in, but then their time record would be adjusted to add in the time they spent waiting/undergoing the check.

The checks should be privately conducted if possible, but given social distancing requirements, it is likely others won’t be able to see or hear private information. If the employee passes the temperature check (it is below 100.4), the employee can be allowed to work. However, if the reading is higher, the employee can be taken to a more private area and informed that the temperature was too high and they need to be sent home. Note that reporting time issues may be present in such situations.

While it would be good to track which employees were at work on which days and that they had all been temperature checked before allowing to continue working (so that you can track and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks), it is not advised to keep records of the actual temperatures as this is unnecessary collection of medical information.

Should you have further questions about implementation of safety measures, please contact competent counsel for the same.