Should you be checking employee temperatures

A question you might as an employer be asking is whether you have a right, or an obligation, to check the temperature of your employees. Here’s is what we have discovered.

Are employee temperature checks mandatory?

Thermometer

According to current Government guidance, there is nothing to suggest that an employer is obligated to check their employee’s temperature before allowing them to work. Some stores and services however across the country are deciding to conduct no-contact temperature checks on both customers and employers, and those who work in care homes are now being provided with regular coronavirus tests in an attempt to halt the spread in the most vulnerable.

Am I allowed to carry out temperature checks?

Despite Government advice not specifically addressing temperature checks, there has been guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office, as data protection must be considered.

As a high temperature is one of the biggest tell-tale signs of a person contracting coronavirus, this may be considered a worthwhile check. However, if the information regarding an employee’s temperature needs to be processed, this much be done so under the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be regarded as special category data. Therefore, it is protected under data law. As an employer, you will most likely be entitled to process such information if it can be shown that temperature checks are proportionate and necessary to protect the wellbeing of employees.

Can I discipline an employee if they refuse a temperature check?

Temperature screening kiosk 003 stand

As the Government has not specified temperature checks as being legal or necessary in most cases, you cannot force an employee to have a temperature check if they refuse without putting yourself at risk of claims. This also applies to an employee who shows a raised temperature. However, as this is detailed as a symptom for coronavirus, it’s much more reasonable to expect an employee to go home at this point. Although a high temperature can be caused by any number of issues, Government advice does state that anyone with any of the listed symptoms should self-isolate and stay away from the workplace.