Five months into the Coronavirus pandemic, it is unfortunately common for one of your employees to test positive for the virus. What do you do? You give them time to recover at home, ensure that they sufficiently isolate themselves, and then request 2 negative test results in accordance with CDC guidelines. Eventually, it will be time for your employee to return to the office—but what do you do if they refuse to be tested?
Can businesses in Miami, Florida mandate COVID-19 testing?
Employers can test employees, but there must be a reason to do so. In other words, employers must either mandate testing for everyone, or test those that have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Employees must also be made aware of the type of test they are receiving, and what the results mean.
Who has to pay for my employee’s COVID-19 test?
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response (Families First) Act and the CAREs Act, group health insurance plans are required to cover FDA-approved COVID-19 testing. Nonetheless, the testing that is covered is diagnostic testing—testing to detect or diagnose the virus, not necessarily the tests that employers would require from an employee before they return to work. While it is the same COVID-19 test, the screening or surveillance test is not necessarily covered by insurance companies.
For instance, if an employer asks an employee to get tested at a location that is more accurate or has a faster turnaround, and it is not covered by insurance, the employer would likely have to compensate the employee for that test, as per recent CDC and ADA requirements. Additionally, the employer must recognize the time the employee spends traveling to and from COVID testing centers and taking the tests themselves, especially since the employer, following CDC guidelines, is asking for two false negative tests before having the employee return. Thus, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers will likely be required to compensate employees for the time spent taking COVID tests.