It almost sounds cliche at this point, but yes, we are living in unprecedented times. I want to encourage leaders and managers to remain steadfast in ensuring people's privacy as regards to COVID-19 testing.
A tale of two companies:
My husband and I both decided to get tested, after not feeling well. Did I think I had the virus? Not in the least, but you never know. I work in a medical research clinic and had spent some time speaking to an Alzheimer's patient that week, so I wanted to make sure. We went to an urgent care clinic, and they said the test results would take a few days. Okay, not the end of the world. I am already working from home half the time, so I continued to work. My office was patiently waiting.
My husband was not able to work during this time. He is a mechanic in a small shop, so much more intimate. His coworker has been a pandemic panicker for the last few months, he totally freaked out. I understand that when someone is not at work in a small environment it isn't easy to manage the employee privacy issue, but there is a lot the owner could and should have done to quell his outrage.
So anyway, we waited for NINE days without results. This coworker was constantly texting my husband to ask why he didn't have results as fast as his girlfriend (who immediately got a rapid results test when she heard about our situation). Utter absurdity. These nine days were so stressful at home for us because he was dealing with these people all day and frustrated at not having results.
My husband's boss demanded he go get a rapid results test to be able to come back. He did. It was negative, he went to work. Upon coming back to work, he has been treated like garbage from everyone. Now the owner is demanding the original results. Yes, he has every right to ask for such documents. He does NOT have the right to ask, so he can prove to other employees that my husband did have the test done. For some reason they are upset because they think he lied about being tested and wanted to take time off. Also, it is not their business to know that my husband voluntarily forfeited his salary for this week because he felt guilty that it took so long. Again, lost opportunities from the owner to quash this type of environment from persisting.
This infuriates my HR ethics! Leaders must be better than this. If someone needs to get tested, that is between an employee and their supervisor. It is nobody else's business unless it is a positive result. Once someone is able to come back to work, again, nobody else's business. This man missed the opportunity to tell his employees "all is well, let's move on". He clearly has not. This has created a hostile work environment.
I am sure others have experienced similar situations, and this may be a deal breaker for us and others. So please, keep HR policies in mind as we handle these unique times.