The COVID-19 pandemic has created important considerations for employers hiring new staff or bringing back furloughed employees. In order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws, employers can currently require that employees be tested for an active COVID virus but not for COVID antibodies.
Why one and not the other? Keep reading to learn more about why antibody testing is excluded, the COVID testing differences, and which employment laws apply to employee COVID testing.
8. Why Employers Cannot Mandate COVID Antibody Tests
Understanding why antibody testing for workers cannot be mandated by employers requires understanding ADA benefits and restrictions. Under ADA protections, medical examinations — including testing — can only be required of employees if they are related to the person’s ability to do their job and/or can be deemed a necessity for doing business. Testing employees for the COVID-19 virus falls under those parameters defined by the ADA, but antibody testing currently does not.
7. What’s the Difference Between the Results of COVID Antibody Tests vs. COVID Virus Tests?
According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, an antibody test “determines whether you had COVID-19 in the past and now have antibodies against the virus.” An antibody test isn’t conducted until after a person has recovered from a COVID-19 infection, and can show if a person has developed some level of immunity from reinfection.
A COVID virus test “determines if you currently have the disease.” Thus, a virus test is taken during an active COVID infection. Employers are allowed to require this testing, per conditional employment laws, if employees with coronavirus are a direct threat to the safety of the workplace.