HR Should NOT Ask Employees If They Have COVID-19

April 7, 20202:26 pm713 views
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The three indicators of Covid-19 infection are elevated temperature, dry cough and difficulty in breathing. Other symptoms as described by the WHO include sore throat, nausea, runny nose, and fever. Thuswise, temperature checks are currently the most common form of testing in order to prevent the virus from spreading in the workplace. Temperature testing might not be a reliable measure, however, because a person might not have a fever and yet be the carrier of the virus, Jonathan Segal, a partner of Duane Morris, told SHRM Webcast

See also: Crisis Management Guide for HR During COVID-19 Pandemic

Nonetheless, if employers still want to take this as a precaution, it should be made clear that when an individual does not have an elevated temperature, it does not mean they have a clean bill of health. Therefore, should employers ask whether their employees have or might have the Coronavirus? 

Employers should avoid asking employees if they have Covid-19 

An employer can suggest an employee with visible illness to do self-quarantine and work from home, but should avoid asking too many details that might violate a worker’s privacy. Employers can also set a specific guideline for employees regarding their return after self-quarantine. The CDC also recommended that employers should consider using absence of notes instead of doctor’s note for those who have a record of excessive absence due to illness because medical professionals are going to be extremely busy, Clayton added. 

In the webcast, CDC disease expert, Jay Butler also advised that employers need to have company’s rules and precautions of person-to-person transmission in the workplace. The virus does not seem to live much more than a day outside of the body even under the most favourable laboratory conditions. Employers can encourage people to get the flu shot, not because it will have any protection from Covid-19 (in fact, it does not), but because it will reduce the number of employees who have to miss work because of the traditional flu, Butler added. 

And again, much of the advice Butler told was common sense, such as companies should advise employees against travelling to high-risk locations, employers need flexible work-at-home arrangements, and should consider expended sick-leave policies so employees will feel more secure in their jobs and avoid higher anxiety. 

Read also: Here’s How Employers Can Monitor Employees Remote Activity