Covid-19 Questionnaires: Employers have a duty of care to their employees and should ask them to follow public health advice relating to the management and treatment of symptoms and infection control. Careful considerations on screening employees on their return to the workplace is needed such that proportionate decisions are documented regarding what information is collected, that it is minimized to the absolute minimum necessary, it is securely stored, retained only for as long as is needed and is only disclosed as appropriate.
Temperature checks: Adhering to public health advice for any screening of employees is the absolute minimum. However, checking temperatures of employees represents a significant exposure to the potentially unnecessary and disproportionate use of personal data. Reducing this processing to the most minimal as possible – i.e. a simple check that is applied when the individual enters the workplace and ensuring the result is not recorded, or combined with any other data - helps minimise these risks.
Covid-19 testing: Employers have an important role to play informing employees what options are available for testing and/or arranging for additional testing if appropriate. Depending on the workplace environment businesses may want to test their employees to determine if they have actually been infected by Covid-19. Employment law will have to be taken into account and careful consideration of the lawful basis of submitting employees for testing and accessing or requesting test results is required.
Tracking: Businesses will also want to track the level of infection within the business in order to assess the overall risk to the business and the effectiveness of the measures taken to combat infection. This is likely to mean businesses keeping records of which employees are vulnerable and shielding/cocooning, those that might potentially be infected and are self-isolating, those currently infected or who have previously been infected. Sharing this information with the relevant public health and welfare authorities might be required. Retaining this information for as short a time as possible is an important control measure.
Contact tracing: If an employee is found to be infected, businesses may want to warn those who have been in close contact with the employee about the risk they have also been infected. However, the confidentiality of this information is paramount and the information provided should be on a limited basis, if at all. Typically, the public health authorities should make contact with close or casual contacts thus removing risks from the employer
Vaccination Status: Returning to the workplace means redesigning many work-spaces and offices to account for increased physical-distancing between individuals and ensuring increased infection controls are in place. Employers could look to segregate non-vaccinated and vaccinated staff, or perhaps require non-vaccinated staff to remain working from home or remote locations (if their job might allow). However, processing the vaccination status of employers is likely not considered a necessary or proportionate measure in most employment situations and should therefore not be undertaken.