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Jul 09, 2020

Q&A: Understand record retention rules for health screenings

COVID-19DisabilitySafety and Health 

Question: We’re requiring employees, contractors, and visitors to our facility to provide their temperatures and answer health screening questions. Do we have to keep records of the answers, and if so, for how long?

Answer: There’s no legal obligation to create a written record of actual temperatures or answers to a health screening questionnaire. However, companies who conduct such temperature checks or health screenings should check off names or otherwise verify that every person entering the area has complied. It may be a good idea for purposes of contact tracing or possibly defending against a lawsuit to keep those checklists, but there’s no legal duty to keep a record of the answers. A written record of an employee’s temperature check or completed health screening questionnaire qualifies as an “employee medical record” under OSHA’s record retention regulations at 29 CFR 1910.1020 if it’s “made or maintained by a physician, nurse, or other health care personnel or technician….” If the person making such an employee record is one of those health care professionals, OSHA requires employers to keep the records for the duration of each affected employee’s employment plus 30 years. If the person making the records is an HR person, administrator, or supervisor who isn’t a health care professional as defined by OSHA, then OSHA’s record retention rules don’t apply. Instead, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would apply, which requires employers to retain employee medical records for at least one year after the records are created.

Be sure to store all employee medical records in a file separate from the personnel file. Also, under privacy laws, you must keep all employee medical information strictly confidential and disclose it only to those with a business need to know. For more information about recordkeeping requirements, see our Legal Guide, Record Retention or contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.