Considerations When Testing Residents and Employees and Screening Employees for COVID-19

COVID-19

With test kits being distributed to SNF and ALs, there are several considerations to take into account around screening employees and testing both employees and residents for COVID-19. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends employees be screened privately. Medical information, including an employee’s temperature and answers to screening questions will need to be maintained as a private medical record.  

Time spent waiting for the health screening and testing should be recorded as time worked for non-exempt employees.  

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reminds employers that typically, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. Employers may measure employees’ body temperature because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued precautions.  

Applying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standard to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may take screening steps to determine if employees entering the workforce have COVID-19 because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others. Testing administered by employers consistent with the current CDC guidance will mee the ADA’s “business necessity” standard. This would apply to SNF, AL, and IDD providers.  

An employer may not require an antibody test before permitting employees to re-enter the workplace. The antibody test, at this time does not meet the ADA’s “job-related and consistent with business necessity” standard for medical examinations. This does not apply to the diagnostic tests mentioned above.  

For staff conducting COVID-19 testing, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) categorizes workers who collect/handle specimens from potentially infectious patients as very high occupation exposure risk. This is the highest risk category for occupation risk for COVID-19.  

It is important that staff conducting COVID-19 tests and/or handling specimens are utilizing the appropriate PPE per OSHA and CDC guidance.  

Additional answers to frequently asked questions around the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO Laws can be found on the EEOC’s website

Work-related employee COVID-19 cases are recordable illnesses on the OSHA 300 Logs. Additional information and guidance is available here.