Returning to Work with a Screening Process
"When are we going to get back to normal?" Is a question we hear our family, friends and colleagues ask almost daily especially as it relates to many Americans getting back to work safely and responsibly. The answer to the question occupying everyone’s mind, unfortunately, may not be what we hope. Studies, such as one from Science Magazine, indicate that we could continue to see resurgence of the virus as late as 2024. This means getting back to normal may take longer than we could ever have imagined.
In the United States, each state has their own defined projection for reentry and they, for the most part, all differ. However, the similarity we are seeing across the nation is a need for consistent employee screening based upon the guidance of EEOC, CDC and the medical community.
The world has changed and so have the rules regarding PII and HIPPA data protection. Employers have a duty to ensure their places of work are safe for their employees and clients to enter. This means social distancing, cleaning, and most importantly screening. Screening involves asking for symptoms and taking an employee’s temperature, but how that has been administered varies from company to company. Further, state government officials have not put out a hard opinion on screening because they are so busy trying to control the spread. The time has come to plan the return-to-work process and the new normal of screening your employees. Here are the questions we all need to answer:
Do I keep my employee’s screening data?
Is that Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?
Can I take my employee’s temperature?
If I make an offer to a potential candidate, can I withdraw that job offer?
If an employee is sick, can I require them to return to work only with a signed doctor’s letter?
Can I keep my employees screening (symptoms and temperature) data?
Answer: Yes to all
For further clarification, the EEOC recently released guidance on these questions during the pandemic. Click this link to read them in full.
Essentially, what they are saying is that the employer has the right to ask employees for symptoms and screen for temperature. Employers are to treat the data as medical records and advises not to store those records with HR data to provide greater privacy.
We, at Modjoul, were asked to develop a solution that would help companies return to work when they are ready and cleared to do so. We developed a mobile application that streamlines the screening process for employee entry into the workplace with a short questionnaire, ensuring symptomatic individuals do not spread illness. Employers will have the ability to scan and store the status of every employee, confirming they are screened and cleared to report to work.
We all are eagerly trying to find ways to address this pandemic and getting the screening process defined and in place will only help reentry.
This blog expresses the personal opinion of its writer and is not intended to provide or be used for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease or other conditions, including COVID-19.