Hot Stuff - Taking temperatures

Friday 24th April 2020

Can an employer lawfully conduct temperature checks on staff or other people visiting their premises?

Not without consent

Consent is required for medical examinations which would include taking someone’s temperature. To proceed without consent in relation to employee could give the employee grounds for a constructive dismissal claim and could possibly constitute an assault.

Employees may be reassured that you are taking steps to ensure their safety at work and so may be willing to consent.

Employers need to bear in mind that such data collected would constitute special data for the purpose of GDPR and therefore you can only process that type data on certain grounds. This means that either an employer has to obtain explicit consent or utilises an occupational health provider who are subject to confidentiality obligations. Explicit consent in this context would mean that employers are unlikely to be able to rely on a general contractual provision.

Employers however should bear in mind that taking temperatures, at the time of writing this blog, is not a recommended measure by the World Health Organisation in relation to Covid-19, therefore insisting on it under health and safety grounds may be sufficient for employers to rely on. Instead employers should focus on implementing the recommended measures.

If employers do implement such a temperature checking procedure, with explicit consent, then they should make sure that they do so fairly and consistently to avoid discriminating against any of their staff.

For employment advice contact a member of our employment law team on 01384 811 811