May 4th, 2020

Employees Coming Back to Work: Should You Test Them for Covid19?

The Coronavirus pandemic is slowly scaling down. However, it’s not certain when the vaccine will be ready. It might take months or even a year. Regardless, a lot of companies went through financial losses in the past few months. They have to reopen. Thousands of employees will go back to their daily work routine.

People all over the world lost their jobs because of the virus. In the US, unemployment records are broken. Everyone was under the impact. Both small and large businesses, startups, and well-known brands.

The epidemic will last for a while, but, as the famous quote says: “The show must go on.” To avoid an economic crisis on a global scale, companies are asking their employees to come back to work. For companies with a dozen employees or so, it’s relatively easy to control the situation. What about those who have a few hundred employees or more?

Some of those people might have traveled for personal or business reasons. Others could be infected without even knowing it. In other words, there’s a chance that the virus can spread through the company. It’s not an easy position for the employers. Let’s discuss some of their options.

Provide Tests for Some Employees

Let’s assume that there’s a trustful relationship between workers and their employers. Company owners can create an online questionnaire and ask their employees to be honest with their answers. It can include questions such as:

  • Did you have any of the known Covid19 symptoms in the past two weeks?
  • Were you in any contact with someone who might have the virus?
  • Did you take all the necessary precautions: wearing gloves, a mask, respecting social distancing?
  • Do you feel physically and mentally prepared to get back to work?

The list can go on, but the point is to find out who should get tested. Employers should approach them with a friendly attitude, and with reason. We are not sure if it is ethical and legal to force someone into getting a test. It’s for the best if both sides agree willingly to it. Note that acquiring tests is not easy. In some countries, there’s not enough of them.

Provide Paid Absence

This whole quarantine period was not easy for anyone. Our daily routine changed in an instant, and we had to adapt, there wasn’t much choice. For some, the adaptation process was not hard. But, for others, it was stressful and still is. Some employees might need an additional week off to get back on their feet.

At this point, the company has probably gone through big financial losses and wants to get back on track as soon as possible. It’s up to the business owner to decide whether to give additional time to some individuals or not.

Do Nothing

In this situation, the saying: “time is money” suits perfectly. Like we’ve already mentioned, people lost their jobs and companies a lot of money. Some of them can’t or won’t afford to have additional losses on either side. Still, doing nothing about your employees coming back to work might not be the best idea.

It’s a gamble. The employer can ignore the situation and not test anyone. Luckily enough, no one is infected, and everything goes smoothly. Still, it takes only one infected person to make things worse. The virus will spread, and once again, a lot of employees will be absent from work for at least two weeks.

Can companies afford those additional risks and losses? After all, if their gamble doesn’t pay out in a few weeks, they will be at the same position this article is about. Yup, we are talking about making sure that everyone who got infected, is now perfectly healthy and ready to work.

It seems like there is no unique or perfect answer to the question in the headline. We can’t be judgmental towards anyone, because we do not know their stories. Some companies are probably on the edge of being shut down, and therefore must take risks. Others can decide not to take them, no matter the outcome. At the end of the day, it’s all individual responsibility, and all we can do is hope that things will get better.

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