- U.S. employers have started to bring workers back to the workplace, according to results of a Gallup poll surveying 1,914 U.S. adults conducted in late May. As they do, their COVID-19 prevention measures differ, with some employers neglecting to provide personal protective equipment or enforce social distancing, according to the survey.
- Nearly 40% of Gallup respondents said their employers have opted not to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms such as fevers or coughs. Seventeen percent reported their employers have not provided personal protective equipment, while 13% said they hadn't enforced social distancing. The vast majority of respondents reported employers had enhanced cleaning routines, with only 6% saying their employers made no change to such practices.
- In terms of respondents' own preventative measures, more than two-thirds said they have upped their cleaning routines. Fifty-nine percent said they try to keep six-feet apart from others in the workplace; 27% said they sometimes try to comply with social distancing, and 13% reported they never try to do so. More than 80% said they always or sometimes use personal protective equipment, with 20% saying they never do.
It appears some employers who have brought workers back to workplaces may not be fully compliant with current federal guidance on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently urged employers to modify workspaces to allow for social distancing. When it's not possible for employees to keep six feet apart from each other or others, employers should install transparent barriers, the agency said. It also recommended employers increase the percentage of outdoor air in offices and improve central air filtration.
While federal agencies have given employers the green light to screen for COVID-19 symptoms, sources have acknowledged the logistical challenges inherent in this practice, as well as workplace COVID-19 testing. With fever testing specifically, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reminded employers that, though it approved the screening, the Americans with Disabilities Act still obligates employers to keep "all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record."
When it comes to COVID-19 testing specifically, employers must think through a number of issues, Gus Sandstrom, partner at Blank Rome, previously told HR Dive in an interview. "I'm not sure if this outweighs the positive benefits of testing," he said.