US | COVID-19 | CDC Updates Guidance on Workplace Testing for COVID-19

On January 21, 2021 the CDC issued an updated guidance on Workplace SARS-CoV-2 Testing. The updated guidance emphasizes that workplace-based testing should not be conducted without the employee’s informed consent then provides specific measures employers should take to ensure employee consent. The guidance document also includes a list of information employers should be prepared to disclose to employees such as the name of the manufacturer of and the name of the test, the test’s purpose, any known risks of the test, and what a positive and negative result mean.

The specific measures that CDC recommends employers take in order to ensure employee consent for being tested for COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Ensure safeguards are in place to protect an employee’s privacy and confidentiality.
  • Provide complete and understandable information about how the employer’s testing program may impact employees’ lives, such as if a positive test result or declination to participate in testing may mean exclusion from work.
  • Explain any parts of the testing program an employee would consider especially important when deciding whether to participate. This involves explaining the key reasons that may guide their decision.
  • Provide information about the testing program in the employee’s preferred language using non-technical terms. Consider obtaining employee input on the readability of the information. Employers can use this tool to create clear messages.
  • Encourage supervisors and co-workers to avoid pressuring employees to participate in testing.
  • Encourage and answer questions during the consent process. The consent process is active information sharing between an employer or their representative and an employee, in which the employer discloses the information, answers questions to facilitate understanding, and promotes the employee’s free choice.
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Sources:Workplace SARS-CoV-2 Testing: Consent Elements and Disclosures, CDC, January 21, 2021.

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