So, Who Has to Pay for the Cost of COVID-19 Testing in Your Practice?
Vaccine mandates and mandatory testing for those who refuse to vaccinate is becoming an increasingly bigger issue in dental, medical and optometry practices. President Biden has also ordered employees of big businesses like group dental practices, and certain healthcare workers to either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing. This has many employers and employees wondering: Who’s covering the costs of COVID testing?
As the last two years have proven, this issue isn’t going away any time soon. If your practice has implemented a policy that requires employees to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, then you've come to the right place.
Mandating Vaccines at the Office: Should I?
While mandating vaccines can help protect your practice, it isn’t a simple yes or no answer. There may still be some team members who refuse to vaccinate for their own personal reasons. You’ll have to assess your team and determine the right course of action for your office. If your policy extends to patients (and anyone else who may need to enter your offices), then you’ll want to get a read on your community’s attitude towards the COVID vaccine.
To decide how best to handle this, you’ll need to verify if your state requires mandatory vaccination for all employees. Each state has their own policy regarding this. If the vaccine is mandated in your state, you will have to implement the policy. If your state does not force vaccinations, you can choose to implement a mandate anyway or you can ask employees who do not wish to be vaccinated to submit to COVID testing on a weekly basis to minimize the chance of spreading the virus. .
If you decide to pursue the testing option, it may help to safeguard your practice and keep your staff and patients safe from Covid-19. You can ask your employees to get vaccinated, and you can even mandate it, but if a mandate turns out to be problematic, COVID testing can help.
Recommended Resource 📩 COVID-19 Policies & Testing Tracking Template
Is Mandatory COVID Testing Feasible?
If you have some team members who are resistant to vaccination on principle, you may want to consider mandatory weekly testing if allowed in your state. This commitment keeps your team safe and minimizes the risk of transmission to patients. It will also minimize the risk of becoming short-staffed while employees battle the virus and its complications.
In some areas, testing sites are free and easily accessible, but this isn't true across the board. There are still many areas in the US that do not have easy access to testing sites. If weekly COVID testing is required by the employer, then the employer will need to accommodate the employee to ensure this is feasible. The laws surrounding who pays for COVID testing and how it’s handled are still in development as we navigate this pandemic.
Who Pays for the Cost of Testing?
Based on the information available at this point, , if employers require employees to submit to regular medical examinations or testing, it is suggested that the cost should fall on the employer, not the employee. As a practitioner, you may inquire about subsidies offered to businesses in your state to cover this kind of cost.
However, in most states, subsidies are not yet available, thus testing should still be at the cost of the employer. The employer also has to make sure getting tested is feasible for the employee. If you are deciding to accommodate testing, you can consider offering testing on-site during regular office hours for your practice.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay employees for their time spent undergoing mandatory testing. Therefore, it may be more cost-efficient to have your employees undergo testing on-site during working hours.
If on-site testing is not a viable option, the employer can find a local testing site that’s free of charge, where they may be able to send their employees. However, this would need to be verified per your location. It’s not always possible to have employees regularly sent to free testing sites. Some states may require the employer to find their own alternative testing source, so as not to create a backlog at free testing sites meant for the public.
When and How to Test Your Employees for COVID?
To minimize disruption, you can test your employees either at the beginning of or the end of their shift. It can be difficult to mandate and verify that all employees are vaccinated, so scheduled COVID testing can be a happy medium for your team. Testing may be done on-site to eliminate travel requirements for your staff.
You should also make sure that COVID testing is implemented correctly. If an employee prefers to use a local testing site, they may be charged for it and that fee should be passed on to the employer. Offering on-site testing that is paid for by the employer can also help you manage the costs of COVID testing.
Do You Need HR Help?
It's no secret that this is unchartered territory for most business owners, so getting a little HR help is a great idea. HR for Health is ready to help you manage your employees and navigate your way through the health crisis.
HR for Health works with you to help you and your employees using convenient online documents and on-demand HR advising and support services. Schedule a consultation today to see how HR for Health can help your practice maintain HR stability throughout these times of uncertainty.