Is an Employer obligated to pay for the COVID-19 testing of an Employee?

Employers may be presented with the circumstance wherein an employee reports for duty and it is discovered that he/she is presenting with one or more of the symptoms associated with COVID-19. It is important to know and understand your financial and practical obligations as an employer should this situation arise.

Fortunately, the Directive entitled “Disaster Management Act (57/2002): Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces” provides clarity in this regard.

Regulation 23 states as follows:

“23.If a worker presents with those symptoms, or advises the employer of these symptoms, the employer must –

23.1 not permit the worker to enter the workplace or report for work; or

23.2 if the worker is already at work immediately-

23.2.1 isolate the worker, provide the worker with a FFP1 surgical mask and arrange for the worker to be transported in a manner that does not place other workers or members of the public at risk either to be self- isolated or for a medical examination or testing; and

23.2.2 assess the risk of transmission, disinfect the area and the worker’s workstation, refer those workers who may be at risk for screening and take any other appropriate measure to prevent possible transmission;

23.3 ensure that the worker is tested or referred to an identified testing site.”

It is clear from the regulations that an employer is not obligated to pay for the testing of the employee presenting with symptoms associated with COVID-19. However, the employer is obligated to isolate the worker, provide him/her with a FFP1 surgical mask and arrange for the worker to be transported for a medical examination or testing at a identified testing site. Furthermore, whomever assists in the transportation of the worker must be given the necessary Personal Protection Equipment to ensure that he/she is not placed at any risk. 

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