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I want to know if it’s safe to let someone work during the pandemic—but how?

Question:

Karen works as head for HR Operations at a company deeply affected by the pandemic. They tried having a work-from-home setup for all their employees but found that they could not: 50% of the employees have no access to the internet. She is worried that a lot of her employees might have symptoms but still come to work. How can she ask each employee without breaking ADA guidelines?

Answer:

The ADA does not allow us to ask our employees directly about medical conditions. What the CDC and ADA does allow is asking non-disability related questions that can give HR information regarding an employee’s status as it relates to the safety of other employees to verify whether they should be coming to work or not.  Since the ADA recommends utmost confidentiality, the best way to go around this is to ask about circumstances that could prevent an employee from reporting to work rather than their symptoms as well as other  Q & A’s related to return to work. A close-ended (yes/no) or checklist survey sample is provided by the EEOC and lists those certain circumstances. This works well because it is straight to the point and confidential at the same time.  Source: Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the American with Disabilities Act

 

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In both the ADA and CDC guidelines, Karen can only ask about possible COVID symptoms if an employee reports feeling sick. Even then, medical tests and records that revolve around asking this should be kept confidential. Be sure and go directly to the source for additional details and resources.

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Feeling stuck and unprepared during this pandemic? Leave Management Solutions has you covered. Take a look at our COVID-19 EZ HR Emergency Response Package here to get more organized!