There have been numerous questions posed by employers in regard to confidentiality of medical information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has attempted to address some of the most common questions which employers feel need addressing. Here are some guidelines:
What medical information may be retained in an employee’s file?
Employers may retain information regarding COVID-19 in an employee’s file, provided they are only kept in medical files and not in general personnel files. Access must only be granted to those who have access to information which would otherwise be considered confidential.
Am I allowed to require employees have their temperature taken before entering the workplace?
Yes, an employer may require this, provided it is requested of all employees. In cases where an employer maintains such information in a daily log, that log must be confidential.
Can I release the name of an employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Only in cases where the name is provided to a public health agency. Employers may not share such information with other employees unless the employee gives explicit permission for them to do so.
Does the ADA allow an employer to send an employee home or have them stay home if their symptoms are indicative of COVID-19?
Yes. Employers may request such an employee stay at home or send them home for a period consistent with guidelines issued by the CDC.
What guidance can you provide to staffing agencies or contractors regarding a team member who is diagnosed with COVID-19?
In these instances, you may provide any employer who was in contact with the team member their name. This allows the company where they worked to ensure they take extra precautions and be aware of potential spread within the workplace.
How do I handle employees who may be at greater risk of COVID-19 due to preexisting health concerns?
Employers must still adhere to ADA “reasonable” accommodations guidelines. In the case of COVID-19 fears this may include:
- Having an employee work from home when possible
- Workplace accommodations such as barriers between workstations
- Modified work schedules or assignments
- Temporary assignment to new duties
What guidance does the ADA offer about employees with mental illness or disorders?
Because the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to exacerbate mental illness or disorders, employers should take necessary steps to offer any employee with a pre-diagnosis of such a condition any accommodations which are reasonable.
Employers who have additional questions should review information on the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the guidance for employers offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Employers who still have questions about allowing employees to return to Florida workplaces should contact us during Covid-19.