Can HR make employees take the COVID-19 test?

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases

Can HR make employees take the COVID-19 test?

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases – no one likes being around a sniffly person, especially in this paranoid climate. Everyone’s on constant high alert, with the smallest sneeze eliciting a panicked response.

As we consider returning to the workplace, employers have to consider implementing new methods of safeguarding employee health. One such way is through the COVID-19 test.

But can an employer insist their workers undergo the invasive procedure?

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HRD spoke to David A. Whitten, senior partner at Toronto-based law firm Whitten & Lublin, who gave us a definitive answer.

“Yes, they can, if they have a reasonable basis for doing so,” he told HRD. “In this in this environment, unfortunately, anybody displaying any signs of COVID-19 is told to stay home.

“The issue is that the common cold shares several if not all of the same symptoms of COVID-19. And so, if an employee is displaying those symptoms, HR can insist that the person leave the workplace until they return with a negative COVID-19 test.

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“The other basis upon which an employer could insist on a COVID-19 test, is if they have reasonable belief that the employee has come in contact with somebody who is infected with COVID-19. Reasonable belief would be evidence that they have interacted with somebody with COVID-19 – crucially, it can't just be anecdotal. It would have to be something more concrete.”

In other COVID-19 news, Health Canada is now reportedly considering home testing – according to a spokesman for the minister of health.

In a statement to Reuters, the department said: “In response to the evolution of the pandemic, Health Canada is now considering applications for home testing devices for screening purposes.”

Previously, the health ministry had claimed concern over people misinterpreting results when left to their own devices.

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