As an essential business owner or manager, you may be wondering if you can hire a third party to test all employees and screen them for COVID before they enter the building. Naturally, you want to keep everyone safe and you don't want anyone making everyone else sick and causing a shutdown of the business. Yet, there is the concern with privacy laws where medical testing is concerned. Screening for COVID is considered "medical testing" in most states, but exceptions to the rule have been made where COVID is concerned.
Ergo, you might be thinking about hiring a third party to test and screen employees. Is that even possible? Could you afford to do it on a long-term basis? What company or companies provide this type of service? All of those questions, plus a few extra, are answered below.
Yes, You Can Hire a Third Party to Test and Screen Employees
Really, what are your alternatives? There's a good chance you're not going to personally come into work every day at the start of every shift and screen every employee and test every employee. Imagine the insanity of that work schedule! Furthermore, can you afford to get sick if you do encounter an infected employee? Probably not, and you need to be present to run things unless you have a co-manager or a few extra supervisors that can handle the workload in your absence.
That is why these third party medical testing resources exist. These companies will give you a few of their employees who will check in with each shift and check every employee for signs of COVID before they can begin work. You stay out of the way and out of harm's way so that you can continue to work and conduct business while the medical testing staff do their job to keep employees healthy and safe. Depending on availability of the testing and monitoring staff, you may need to make adjustments to your work schedule such that every employee is screened and/or tested at a specified time.
Weighing the Affordability of the Testing Staff Against Sick Employees and Shutdowns
Your next concern addresses what a lot of business owners and managers are thinking; affordability. Hiring a third party to come in and do testing and monitoring to keep sick people out of the workplace seems like it might be pricey. Considering the long-term probability of having these outside team members do their job, you may also be wondering if the long-term costs are way up in the stratosphere.
However, you should compare the costs of shutting down the business for a single day. What does that cost? Then there are the costs associated with employees out sick, being short-staffed, and having employees pass away from the virus. Trying to hire new people to fill open positions is also costly.
Essentially what you lose in three days' to two weeks' time of shutting down your business versus hiring a third party virus testing and monitoring team seems like a no-brainer. You would probably prefer to be short one or two employees for the next couple of weeks over losing thousands of dollars a day from a forced shutdown. The money you pay the third party testers is a very small price to pay to keep your doors open and keep your employees healthy and working.
Companies That Provide This Type of Service
Medical staffing businesses and traveling nurse companies provide these types of professionals to you. They are fully trained on how to take a temperature and ask non-invasive questions that will not get you or your business into any trouble. They follow set protocol to make sure every employee checks out as safe and able to work in the presence of others.
Employee privacy is maintained from the standpoint that no additional questions unrelated to COVID are asked. No assumptions are made on the employee's health or fitness when the medical staff are in charge of these tasks. In the event that someone does appear ill, you are notified of the situation and every employee that has had contact with the sick individual is told to go home and quarantine.
If you are concerned about the validity of the temporary staff's ability to conduct said tests daily, ask to see his/her license. Then ask to walk through what they will be doing so that you personally experience the testing and monitoring services they will provide in your absence. The agency that sends the staff to you will be able to answer any additional questions and set up a schedule for their staff to be at your business's entrance the following business day.
When You Do Have to Shut Down, Your Services Are Temporarily Suspended
Another question that a lot of business owners and supervisors have is how things will go if the business has to be shut down for 3-14 days when a case of COVID has been identified. At this point, all of the temporary medical staff that had been at your site may need to quarantine along with your employees. If that is the case, the medical staff would be as unavailable as your employees.
The temporary medical staff and the testing and monitoring services they provided would be suspended. When it is time to return to work, those same medical staff may return to their posts at your company's or business's front door to test each and every employee again. Hence, you only pay for the days and times that you need and will use the services provided by these professionals.
Traveling medical staff are more often the most available temporary staff you can get. That is good news if you can't find any medical temp agencies near you who are willing to do COVID checks on your employees. Then the traveling medical staff can find somewhere in town to stay while they work for you.
The length of commitment to this post depends solely on how long the pandemic lasts and when a vaccine will be available to the general public. However, you should probably secure this third party medical team for a period of ninety days to start. You can always renew the contract close to the end of that ninety days if it seems like the pandemic isn't quite over yet.
By pre-paying for this service you ensure that you will have it every day at the times you need it for a few months. Knowing that helps put you a little more at ease about your employees' health and well-being and your continued daily operations that would otherwise be interrupted. Ask to see the contract of services before you pay and sign.
Keep It Simple
You may enquire about a hybrid service that can help too. Self-reporting by employees is part of this process, but having the employee still report for a temperature check when he/she is not reporting symptoms is a vital part too. If you want to increase employee privacy, set up an online questionnaire for employees to use to self-assess how they are doing or feeling.
This hybrid model of answering an online questionnaire related to one's health and then having a temporary medical professional take the temperatures is a good idea. It decreases the amount of time the staff would have with potentially sick people while increasing every individual's rights to personal privacy. Before you hire your COVID check team, ask the agency about this option.