Can You Require Exposed Workers to Get COVID Tested? – Ask The Expert:
You can recommend but not require that workers heading into self-isolation get tested
I realize that we can require a worker who has had close contact with a COVID-positive case to self-isolate for 14 days, but can we also legally ask them to get tested? We’re in the food processing industry.
You can always ask a worker to get tested for COVID. In fact, you should recommend that they do so after they’ve been exposed to a confirmed case. Whether you can require them to do get tested is much more problematic. In this case, I believe the answer is no.
Being in the food processing sector, which is an essential industry where the need to keep the workplace free of infected people, puts you in a stronger position to demand that workers gets tested and disclose their test results. But if the worker will be going into isolation for 14 days anyways, the test result will have no real impact on the health of your workplace. As a result, your justification on requiring—as opposed to recommending—COVID testing disappears. The same is true of requiring them to disclose the results if they do get tested.
However, you might have a case for requiring workers to get tested after their 14-day isolation ends to verify that they’re COVID-free and can safely return to work. But even that’s not a slam dunk under the current COVID public health guidelines.