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  • Writer's pictureTaryn M

Can you screen employees returning to work?

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Yes. General, inquiries about an employee’s health (such as taking one’s temperature) would not be allowed, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 are allowed since it is a direct threat to others in the workplace. Because of that, you may inquire about symptoms related to the virus, require self-reporting by employees, and take employees’ temperatures.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

· Cough

· Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

· Fever

· Chills

· Repeated shaking with chills

· Muscle pain

· Headache

· Sore throat

· New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. As the medical community learns more about COVID-19, additional symptoms could be added to this list. Employers should consult with a medical professional or refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the most current list of recognized symptoms. This list can be found online by clicking here.

If you decide to do screen employees for symptoms, be sure you screen all employees. Employers should make sure not to engage in unlawful disparate treatment based on protected characteristics in decisions related to screening and exclusion. And remember that all information about an employees’ health must be kept confidential in a file separate from their personnel file.

Looking for more information or assistance on implementing a policy to screen employees, contact me at

For technical assistance and an FAQ regarding screening employees, please refer to the EEOC’s What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws

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