Keypoint: The use of no-contact temperature taking devices can be an important part of a company’s return-to-work program, but companies should fully vet these devices to ensure that they are not unintentionally violating privacy laws or exposing themselves to potential liabilities.
As U.S. companies start planning and implementing return-to-work plans, many are considering whether to use no-contact temperature taking devices.
The federal government has recognized that taking temperatures is a step that companies can take to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus. For example, the CDC interim guidance for critical infrastructure workers recommends that employers “measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work.” EEOC return-to-work guidance also recognizes that employee screening “may include continuing to take temperatures . . . of all those entering the workplace.”
States and cities also have recommended taking temperatures. For example, in Colorado, the Governor’s office has encouraged large workplaces to implement symptom and temperature checks as part of the state’s gradual return-to-work strategy. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that temperature checks will be part of the City’s return-to-work program. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy suggested that restaurants could check temperatures before allowing customers to enter.
However, the taking of temperatures creates logistical issues such as who should take the temperatures, what precautions should be in place, and when and where the temperatures should be taken. As with many other facets of this pandemic, companies have looked to technology to answer some of these questions, and there are many solutions – some old, some new – in the marketplace.
Depending on the type of device, the use of no-contact temperature taking devices can raise numerous privacy issues. As companies begin to vet and implement these devices, they will need to ensure that they do not unintentionally violate privacy laws or assume potential liabilities.