With the recent Bob Iger announcement that Disney may begin checking guest temperatures at the park gates, we're all soon faced with a new normal. In the new post-COVID-19 world, experts are also asking us to stop shaking hands and consider working from home. Employers and hiring managers will adjust to new requirements to bring staff back to work and back to normal.
Is it okay for employers to check temperatures or screen medical history during hiring or before allowing employees to go back to work? In some cases, the answer is yes.
Here are considerations for medical background checks for healthcare workers and other employees.
EEOC & ADA Guidance
In response to the H1N1 virus in 2009, the EEOC issued pandemic guidance for employers, HR professionals and healthcare providers. The EEOC Pandemic guidance has since been updated in response to COVID-19. The guidance is offered to employers in answer to the following questions:
- Can an ADA-covered employer ask more information if an employee calls in sick?
- Can an ADA-covered employer take the temperature of an employee?
- Can an ADA-covered employer require an employee stay home if they are displaying symptoms of the virus?
- Can an ADA-covered employer require a doctor's note to return to work?
The concern is that some of these questions may require the employee to disclose information about a disability or compromised immune system. The ADA prohibits employers from inquiring about disabilities before a conditional offer of employment, however, employers may make inquiries if all employees face the same requirements or if the inquiry is job-related.
During a pandemic, ADA-covered employers do have the right to:
- Send home an employee who is displaying symptoms of the virus.
- Ask questions about symptoms if the employee calls in sick.
- Take the temperature of an employee. (Be aware that not all with COVID-19 display fever.)
- Screen applicants for symptoms of the virus after making a conditional job offer.
- Delay the start of employment if the candidate is displaying symptoms of the virus.
- Withdraw the job offer if the candidate has symptoms of the virus and the job starts immediately.
Basically, employers are to follow the guidance of the CDC but also protect the privacy of applicants and employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To learn more, read the Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Medical Background Checks for Healthcare Workers
For those jobs that require a medical screening as it relates to their job, such as healthcare workers, medical background checks are not new. It's especially important during a pandemic to ensure that those on the front lines are safe and not at an increased risk of contracting the virus. As part of a full background check solution for those in the healthcare industry, screens may include:
- Identity checks
- Employment verification
- Professional License verification
- Education verification
- Federal, National, Statewide and County criminal records search
- Sex Offender registry search
- Drug screening
- OIG / GSA search
As a note, VeriFirst would like to sing the praises of healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic. We applaud your efforts to help us all.