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Mailbag: Should Our Company Set Up On-Site Testing for COVID-19?

HR Dive

Testing alone won't form an effective reopening plan, and the realities of testing may outweigh the benefits, attorneys told HR Dive. In HR Dive's Mailbag series, we answer HR professionals' questions about all things work.

Q: Should our company set up on-site testing for COVID-19? How can we do this?

A: Employers can test employees for COVID-19 at work, and they can require a negative test as a precondition for an employee's return to work, Gus Sandstrom, partner at Blank Rome, told HR Dive in an interview. Notably, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said that employers can test employees before permitting them to enter the workplace.

But whether every employer should test, and what that testing might look like in practice, is a much more complicated question. "Practically, there are a number of things that need to be thought through," Sandstrom said. "I'm not sure if this outweighs the positive benefits of testing."

Consider the realities of on-site testing


Bigger companies may have an easier time with testing logistics, Sandstrom said. For example, they could move testing to an on-site location that is less heavily used, or take advantage of large parking lots. Employers also must consider where medical waste will be disposed of, if necessary, and whether the testing will be mandatory.

All employers must consider how they will inform employees who test positive in a discreet manner — "employees don't want to be put into an awkward situation in front of their co-workers," Sandstrom said.

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“Mailbag: Should Our Company Set Up On-Site Testing for COVID-19?” by Ryan Golden was published in HR Dive on May 15, 2020.