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Can My Employer Take My Temperature And Send Me Home If I Have Symptoms Of COVID?

In the wake of the COVID-19, government authorities put several safety measures in place to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check. Workplaces were instructed with a new standard operating procedure to control the spread of the virus and to get back to some semblance of normalcy. 

Through this, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) gives employers the go-ahead to check the employees' temperatures as and when they see fit. Several offices quickly adopted the revised SOP and implemented the same to contain the virus as best they could. So, what would happen if your employer indeed found your temperature high, possibly indicating a glaring symptom of the virus? Read on to know this and more. 

Can My Employer Take My Temperature And Send Me Home If I Have Symptoms Of COVID?

One of the requirements of workplace SOP post-COVID had been the regular check of temperatures of employees and other office staffers alike to separate the ones with symptoms of COVID from the ones with none. This was put in place to ensure that people with symptoms don't transmit the virus to others, essentially turning the office into a red zone. Therefore, chances are your employer would check your temperature every day to be on the safe side. 

What happens if your temperature is dangerously high, which is a telling symptom of COVID? Your employer would indeed send you back home. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has explicitly recommended that people with COVID symptoms need to be sent home, so they don't end up infecting others in the workplace, your employer would raise the alarm at a high temperature and ask you to take some time off work. 

However, many things need to be kept in mind as well. For instance, just because your high temperature doesn't mean that you have COVID. Do get yourself tested if that happens to be 100% sure. Alternatively, some COVID-infected people don't contact a fever. So, the high temperature could only be telling one part of the story. 

If your test comes back positive, it's best to take time off at work. There are various programs put in place to protect the interest of employees if they are unable to work because of COVID-19 symptoms. 

Can I get fired for not showing up at work because of COVID-19?

As per the Cal/OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standards, employers need to maintain your earnings, in all forms, and other benefits that you enjoy at your workplace, including your seniority and job status, among other things, if they return you home for showcasing signs of COVID, and advise you to isolate yourself for a given period. This privilege only extends if you cannot prevent the spread of the virus and keep the transmission low. Any employer who infringes this rule shall be punishable by law, and you can exercise this right of yours by connecting with the concerned authority. 

What are employers likely to do if they find that one of their employees has been exposed to COVID but isn't showing signs of illness?

If an employer finds one of the employees displaying symptoms of COVID-19, they are in their full right to separate such employees from healthy ones. Although, as per the CDC, it shouldn't be mandatory for the employees to provide the employer with their COVID-19 test result, or the note from their health professional, as the hospitals could be too overwhelmed with the caseloads to provide such documents. 

Alternatively, if the employer has reasons to believe that their employee was exposed to COVID but isn't showing any symptoms, yet again they can ask them to isolate themselves for around two weeks. 

How To Protect Yourself?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended some safety measures to all employees to ensure that they don't have to face the eventuality of halting their work to recover from COVID. 

Here are the recommendations are given by the authority that you could follow to protect yourself from unnecessary trouble:

  • Get vaccinated, and stay on top of all the due doses. 
  • Wear a mask at all times. 
  • Maintain a 6 feet distance from other people around you, and refrain from getting close to anyone with a sickness.
  • Refrain from venturing into poorly ventilated rooms and spaces. 
  • Monitor your health regularly, and check your temperatures every day before venturing out to work.
  • If you have a legitimate reason to suspect that you would have contracted the virus, get a SARS-CoV-2 test done to be sure. 
  • If the tests come positive, notify your employer, and ask for leave on account of the illnesses. Some of the government schemes would indeed protect you regarding your occupation.

Here are some safety measures uniquely designed for workplace protection:

  • Keep hand sanitizer close at hand, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you regularly use in your workplace. 
  • Keep the face-to-face conversation with colleagues at a minimum, and consider more distant conversing options, such as teleconference. 
  • Keep the count of the meeting as low as possible.