Protect Employees and Avoid Fines for COVID-19 Workplace Violations

Stan Adams
Sep 24, 2020 12:19:04 PM

What are you doing to protect your employees from COVID-19 in the workplace?

News stories from across the country are reporting employers fined for COVID-19 workplace violations including failing to provide PPE and failing to screen employees for symptoms. With employers needing to follow guidelines from a number of national and local sources, a workplace mitigation strategy can certainly get complicated to implement and execute. In addition to these guidelines, employers must take into account employee privacy concerns as they relate certain laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Essentially, there are a lot of considerations for employers when it comes to operating workplaces during this pandemic.

One of the most important ways to protect employees is the use of masks and social distancing within the workplace. This may require reconfiguring workplaces or installing physical barriers and purchasing masks to have on hand for employees. Luckily, masks are easier to find than they were in March, though there are still shortages of medical PPE persist. Additional cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas may also be needed.

Apart from cleaning, physical distancing, and mask wearing, employers need to have a way to screen employees for symptoms and encourage those with symptoms to stay home and seek medical care. 

On April 23, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance regarding how certain laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impact how employers may respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ADA, for example, only allows employers to mandate medical testing if the requirement is job-related and necessary for business. The EEOC’s April guidance states that when this standard pertains to the current pandemic, an employer “may take steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19 because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others.” This guidance allows for employers to require screening and testing, though they should take into consideration how best to protect employee privacy when doing so.

One way to bypass some of the privacy concerns is to have employees self-screen from home using technology such as QuantaSTAT for Teams. QuantaSTAT for Teams is a HIPAA compliant app that allows employees to complete a daily symptom check from home. Based on their answers, they will be either cleared or not cleared for work. Employees’ specific answers regarding symptoms or pre-existing conditions are never shared with an employer unless and employee wishes to do so. 

This approach works in several ways:

  1. Employees privacy is protected on a secure server rather than on employer servers or paper
  2. Employers can easily access who has been cleared or not cleared in the employer dashboard and can run a variety of reports to detect any trends and take action before a positive test result to limit potential spread between employees
  3. Employers demonstrate that they are appropriately screening for symptomatic employees and have third-party validation, helping to avoid fines and penalties

Implementing any type of technological tool to screen employees or track employees is a delicate balance between needing to protect employee privacy and needing to be able to know and take appropriate action if an employee becomes sick with COVID-19. QuantaSTAT helps employers find that happy medium. 

Unlike tracking apps or tracking wearable devices, which could be appropriate in certain workplace settings, though their effectiveness is unknown and they raise a whole host of privacy concerns, QuantaSTAT for Teams puts employee privacy first and fosters the trust between employer and employee, which we see as an integral part of an effective mitigation strategy.  

Want to learn more about how QuantaSTAT for Teams can help you protect your employees and your business?

Learn more about how QuantaSTAT for Teams can help you protect your employees.

Woman wearing a mask and holding a clipboard and a cell phone (1)

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