Despite the rise of COVID-19 cases across the country and recommendations of local Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to the contrary, many employees partook in Thanksgiving gatherings over the weekend, leaving employers wondering how to mitigate spread in the workplace as employees return to work. Employers considering mandatory testing should remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that any mandatory medical test be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” While mandatory testing prior to returning may be allowable for some employers, by itself, it may not be adequate to prevent spread, as an employee who tests negative may have been exposed but not test positive for up to 14 days. Be aware of any mandatory state or local quarantine or self-isolation periods post-travel.
Regardless of whether or not an employer implements mandatory testing, employers can take additional steps to mitigate spread within the workplace. Employers should review their practices to ensure that they are up-to-date with current CDC recommendations on social distancing and the use of Personal Protective Equipment. They should also continue to conduct symptom screening in accordance with CDC guidelines. Employers are not prevented from inquiring about employees’ travel or attendance at gatherings. If employees have traveled away from home, the CDC recommends post-travel quarantine; employers may require them to remain home or work from home where appropriate. Safety guidelines and best practices for COVID-19 are continually changing, so look to your state and local CDC for updated guidance. If you do require any employees to quarantine, be aware of the FFCRA and any state laws which also may require the payment of wages for quarantine.