man using key card to access office
Screening your employees upon returning to work includes asking questions pertaining to potential exposure each day starting from the day of their return. — Getty Images/SrdjanPav

As states lift their stay-at-home orders and non-essential businesses begin reopening, business owners will again have to carefully consider the safety of their employees, their customers and the business itself before reopening. For most businesses, the first step is screening employees before allowing them to return to the workplace.

The following questions won’t completely stop COVID-19 in its tracks, but screening your workers can significantly reduce the risk of spreading the virus in your community.

[Read: Ready to Reopen: A Playbook for Your Small Business]

Steps to take before employee screening

Before you allow employees to return to the workplace, consult your local and state laws and regulations to make sure you are allowed to reopen. Upon confirmation that you are allowed to reopen, take time to thoroughly clean and sanitize your place of business, create space between employee stations to ensure social distancing is practiced, and provide plenty of hygienic supplies, such as hand sanitizer, tissues and soap. Finally, take the time to document your company’s policy regarding COVID-19 and share it with your employees.

[Read: 4 Steps to Reopening Your Business Safely]

This entire process is simple and inexpensive, but can help keep your employees, customers and business safe.

How to conduct standardized employee screening for COVID-19

To help employers screen their workers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce created this questionnaire that can be completed in under five minutes each day. The questionnaire consists of six questions broken into three sections: questions to be asked upon return to work, to be asked weekly, and to be asked daily. This entire process is simple and inexpensive, but can help keep your employees, customers and business safe.

Here are the six questions you should ask each employee during the screening process. If an employee answers “yes” to any of the following questions, refer them to your HR department to set up reasonable accommodations or alternative work options, such as working remotely.

Questions to ask employees when they return to work:

  • Do you have anyone in your home/have you interacted with anyone that is at a higher risk for contraction (nurses, essential workers, etc.)?
  • Do you have anyone in your home that could be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19?

Questions to ask employees weekly:

  • Have you had contact with a person known to be infected, potentially infected or exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days?
  • Have you or someone you’ve been in contact with traveled domestically or internationally in the last 14 days?
  • Have you or someone you’ve been in contact with attended a gathering where proper social distancing protocol was not followed in the past 14 days?

Question to ask employees daily:

  • Have you had a fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell that cannot be attributed to another health condition in the past 2-14 days?

[Read: How 7 Companies (Big and Small) Are Communicating Their Reopening Plans to Customers]

Finally, at the end of the questionnaire, ask employees to acknowledge they will follow your company’s COVID-19 policies and that they answered all the questions truthfully to the best of their knowledge. During these desperate times, people, including your employees, will take desperate measures to provide for themselves and their families, and may risk the safety of your organization by coming into work while experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms. Make sure they know you are there to support them in this crisis.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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