BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: Employee health checks are now required in New Jersey. What do we need to know about temperature screenings?
Answer: On November 5th an Executive Order signed by Governor Murphy went into effect mandating health and safety standards to protect New Jersey employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Order states that all New Jersey employers are required to comply with a list of protocols including daily health screenings of employees prior to each shift. To comply with the health screening requirement, employers may conduct temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) typically prohibits employers from taking employees’ temperatures as an unlawful medical examination. However, since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, temperature checks and screenings are permitted to protect employees and maintain workplace safety.
What to Consider
Consider this before ordering that touchless thermometer:
- While you do not need to hire a medical professional to take temperatures, provide training and personal protective equipment to the selected temperature administrator.
- Consider staggering arrival times to avoid a screening line from forming.
- Administer screenings privately and equally, without discrimination. Keep all results confidential and separate from personnel records.
- While it is important to document screening efforts, if you choose to keep temperature logs, a pass/fail record is advised rather than actual temperatures. New Jersey has not yet provided record-keeping guidance but other states, like New York, prohibit employers from storing individual temperature data.
- You may have to pay non-exempt employees for the time that they spend getting screened and the time waiting to be screened. New Jersey’s Executive Order states that employees must be screened prior to the start of their shift. Generally, employers must compensate non-exempt employees for time spent performing “integral and indispensable” pre-shift activities. A court may ultimately decide if this pre-shift task meets that standard and is therefore compensable. Until then, paying your employees for this time is the less risky choice.
Remember, checking temperatures does not decidedly identify COVID-19. Ensure any screening measures you implement are consistent with current CDC guidance and follow the confidentiality requirements of the ADA, New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), and any other applicable laws.
Satisfy Compliance, Focus on Strategy with BPHR
The pandemic will result in the need to re-examine existing workplace policies. Now more than ever, it’s essential to have a competent HR resource to guide you. To learn more about Balance Point’s HR consulting solution and how we can help you adapt, schedule your free phone consultation today.
DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.