A resource for businesses
The Path Forward
In March 2020, we established this dedicated hub as a business resource for our customers to help them manage day-to-day operations when navigating the growing risks associated with COVID-19. As the pandemic and responses to it evolve, we continue to provide content and resources here.
- How will COVID-19 developments impact and define the challenges ahead?
- How do businesses and their employees best move forward and adapt to the COVID-19 workplace?
- How do all of us participate in building a safer, more resilient future?
Business travel has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many companies are resuming the practice. Here are some travel safety tips to consider.
Employer focus on mental wellness can help smooth transitions back to offices, retail businesses and other workplaces following COVID shutdowns.
Fever is a key coronavirus symptom, so some businesses are checking temperatures of employees to help fight the spread of COVID-19. We offer some guidance.
To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus among a company’s employees as well as the larger community, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is allowing employers to conduct employee temperature checks as they arrive for work in areas where the state or local health authority has declared widespread transmission of COVID-19. Because the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, the EEOC advises employers “to continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety.”1
Fever: A key symptom of COVID-19
Fever, defined as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38.0 degrees Celsius) or higher, is one of the three most common symptoms of COVID-19, together with coughing and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2 Temperature screenings are most conclusive when someone hasn’t taken medications that may reduce fever (e.g., acetaminophen, such as Tylenol; ibuprofen, such as Motrin or Advil; or aspirin).
It’s important to remember that coronavirus-related symptoms may not appear until two to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19.2 It’s also important to note that body temperature measurements may not be conclusive. Some people with COVID-19 will not have a fever.
Guidance for employee temperature checks at the workplace
Businesses conducting staff temperature checks should follow social distancing policies established by the CDC and take steps to protect employee privacy. Temperature checks should be taken individually in a private space when possible and staff should wait in a line spaced six feet apart. (Another alternative is to take temperatures while employees are in their cars.)
The CDC offers no recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those performing employee temperature checks. These individuals may or may not be healthcare professionals. Generally speaking, the types of PPE required are based on the risk of being infected with the virus while working and the job tasks that may lead to exposure. Personnel performing staff temperature checks should, at a minimum, follow standard precautions of good hand hygiene and respiratory/coughing etiquette. They also should wear PPE — gowns, gloves and face masks — specific to exposure to COVID-19.
In addition, employers should consider these practical considerations from the CDC2:
- Personnel performing staff temperature checks should have the requisite knowledge to do so and to accurately assess the results.
- Thermometers should be disinfected between uses.
- There should be a clear understanding of what will be deemed an elevated temperature.
- Employees who appear to have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough or shortness of breath) upon arrival at work, or who become sick during the day, should immediately be separated from other employees, customers and visitors and sent home.
- When an employee’s temperature is found to be elevated, it should be treated as confidential employee medical information and remain protected while employers act on that information to protect the health and safety of others in the workplace. It may be prudent to keep documentation of the actual temperature readings for any employees who are sent home due to a high temperature.
- If an employee has a fever and reports symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, they should be directed to call their healthcare provider for medical advice. If they develop emergency medical symptoms (e.g., trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, etc.) while at work, medical attention should be sought immediately.
What employees should do if they experience COVID-19 symptoms
Employees experiencing any cold or flu symptoms should stay home and notify their supervisor. If an employee has taken a fever-reducing medication (e.g., acetaminophen, such as Tylenol; ibuprofen, such as Motrin or Advil; or aspirin) or any other symptom-altering medications (e.g., DayQuil, Mucinex, etc.) to combat symptoms of a cold or flu, they also should not come to work.
Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with their healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
Additional resource for businesses
“COVID-19.” Safety and Health Topics. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. U.S. Department of Labor.
1. “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 5 March 2021.
2. “Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 8 March 2021.
The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.
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