ADA, FMLA, the Rehabilitation Act & COVID-19: Employer FAQs
COVID-19 continues to be a significant issue for all employers in all industries.
As the virus continues to spread, employers are facing very difficult labor and employment questions. Can employers ask employees to be tested? Can employers send sick employees home? And must these employees be paid? What if I need to close my worksite for a certain amount of time? We’re here to help you address these critical issues.
During a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask such employees if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus. For COVID-19, these include symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat. Employers must maintain all information gathered about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.
Yes– The CDC states that employees who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 should leave the workplace. The ADA does not interfere with employers following this advice.
Yes– Such inquiries are permitted under the ADA either because they would not be disability-related or, if the pandemic influenza were truly severe, they would be justified under the ADA standards for disability-related inquiries of employees.
Yes– As an employer, you may screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer as long as you do so for all entering employees in the same type of job. This ADA rule applies whether or not the applicant has a disability.
Yes– Medical exams are permitted after an employer has made a conditional offer of employment. NOTE: Employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever.
Yes– According to current CDC guidelines, an individual who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it should not be in the workplace.
Yes– Based on current CDC guidelines, this individual cannot safely enter the workplace, and therefore the employer may withdraw the job offer.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employees are only entitled to refuse to work if they believe they are in imminent danger.
Yes– Employees returning from countries that have a Level 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC should stay home for a 14 day period after returning to the US.
While the coronavirus isn’t covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it is covered under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act amendment.
No– While it isn’t required, telecommuting may be a practical measure to reduce exposure of the virus in some working environments.
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