Date: June 8, 2020

As businesses start to reopen, questions are arising regarding if, when, and how to test employees for COVID-19. The Pews Trust spoke with TELG’s R. Scott Oswald about what federal or state guidelines are available for employers.

“It’s the Wild West out there when it comes to testing. There really is no standard at all.”

R. Scott Oswald

» View on The Pew Charitable Trusts


As Businesses Reopen, Workplace Testing Is the ‘Wild West’

Testing employees for the coronavirus as they come into work will be an important step in safely getting Americans back on the job. But employers have been left to their own devices as they navigate the public health and legal minefield of creating testing plans for the workplace.

“It’s the Wild West out there when it comes to testing,” said Scott Oswald, managing principal of the Employment Law Group, which specializes in workplace issues. “There really is no standard at all, and employers are left to come up with decisions about testing on their own.”


Pennsylvania has mandated that businesses conduct temperature checks of all essential workers, which Oswald said is more detailed than the guidance most states have offered. Nate Wardle, press secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, noted that the state has overseen testing at private food processing and distribution facilities with outbreaks.

“We do not have a clear guidance from our federal authorities on how to do this, and it’s being left to the states, with employers left holding the bag,” Oswald said. “It’s employees whose health and safety is being compromised.”

» View on The Pew Charitable Trusts