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Governors and public health officials across the country have implemented stringent measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19, such as safer at home and face covering mandates. Some jurisdictions also require employers to screen the health of employees, often as they begin a shift. These health screening steps, including temperature checks, are becoming more common as states further reopen their economies.

A a recent post by Littler covers statewide laws and orders across the country, that require employers to take employees’ temperatures and/or conduct other employee health screening procedures, such as asking employees about any COVID-19-consistent symptoms using a questionnaire or checklist.

In California, currently there is no state requirement for temperature screenings. However, some California localities have provisions concerning employee temperature screenings. California does require employers to train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them. Some California localities have provisions concerning employee health screenings.

The post does not address other significant issues related to employer screenings of employee health, including potential wage and hour, discrimination, and privacy concerns. As a result, employers should consult with counsel for details on additional orders that may apply to their operations and for guidance on related legal questions.

Last month, Littler released the results of its COVID-19 Return to Work Survey Report, completed by 1,010 in-house counsel, human resources professionals and C-suite executives.

Employers are moving forward with caution, as only 18 percent plan to bring employees back immediately after stay-at-home orders expire. Another 33 percent will wait a few weeks and 42 percent plan to take a “wait and see” approach to gauge the outcome of other business’ reopening efforts.

Employers are also taking numerous steps to maintain employees’ safety, including increased cleaning (90 percent), limiting employee contact in common areas (87 percent), providing and/or encouraging the use of face coverings or other protective gear (86 percent) and modifying workspaces to maintain safe distances (78 percent).

More than half (58 percent) of respondents also plan to conduct testing or health screenings on employees, with most referring to temperature checks (89 percent) and symptom screenings (72 percent) and a small number selecting antibody (8 percent) and antigen (7 percent) tests.

Yet while the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released some guidance about screening employees for COVID-19, uncertainty remains around implementation, privacy matters and litigation risks.

Employers interested in further information may wish to consult Littler articles identifying face covering guidance and return to work protocols, as well as its interactive reopening map.