Today we have seen our first general contractor start asking for members to sign a health care screening survey. The question was asked if these surveys are legal and are they allowed to do it? The answer is yes, health care screening surveys are legally acceptable because it is reasonably related to reducing the risk of exposing employees to the COVID-19 virus and protecting workplace health and safety. I believe we can expect to see the number of contractors, generals, as well as electrical contractors, start to ask these questions. Below are some general guidelines as to what they can ask.
- Employers have the right to ask health-related questions of employees that are reasonably related to reducing the risk of exposing employees to the COVID-19 virus and protecting workplace health and safety. For example, this may involve questions about whether the employee has been diagnosed with the virus, whether the employee has experienced symptoms characteristic of the virus, whether the employee has come into close contact with someone with a known COVID-19 diagnosis, and whether the employee has traveled to a place with high rates of exposure (e.g. Iran, South Korea, Italy). Employers can request that employees who pose an unreasonable risk of exposure to the virus take appropriate steps to protect workplace health and safety and the health of the employee, such as not reporting to work and seeking medical assistance. In jobs with high rates of contact with the public, an employer can ask whether the employee has any underlying condition that would make it particularly risky for them to be exposed to COVID-19. If the employee has a medical vulnerability in such a job with high public contact, the Employer may discuss possible reasonable accommodations with the employee such as working remotely (teleworking) or taking time off from work.
- Employers cannot pose broad medical questions that are not reasonably related to COVID-19 and that may be construed as inquiring about whether an employee has a disability.Such general questions would be prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, an employer cannot lawfully inquire of the employee if they are “healthy” or if they have any “disease or illness.” The Employer’s questions must be reasonably related to whether an employee has the COVID-19 virus or has been exposed to it, or would face a significant risk from the virus in a high contact job, and cannot be general questions about whether the employee may have a disability.
I also want to reiterate to all members that if you know someone that is sick, their private health issues are just that, they are private, and you should not be discussing it with anyone.
Again, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to call.
IBEW Local 343