Return to Work Program Tool Kit: Chapter 1 Employee Screening

Return to Work Program Tool Kit: Chapter 1 Employee Screening

What is needed for a successful return to work program?

Employers should follow the “swiss cheese” model where each layer of protection adds more safety. No one solution can fill all the holes where businesses face risk. Adding multiple protection tools or “swiss cheese slices” covers these holes. Following this model allows you to create a strong pandemic defense for your return to work program (1).

PPE, disinfecting, and social distancing all contribute to a healthier workplace. This blog focuses on adding the employee screening layer. Employee health screenings ensure only employees who meet your return to work criteria are at the workplace. 

Additional layers also include contact tracing, surveillance testing, and vaccine tracking. Contact tracing stops forward transmission and surveillance testing catches asymptomatic silent spread. Finally, vaccine tracking allows you to know when you’ve reached herd immunity. A comprehensive workplace safety solution should integrate all of these tools.

pandemic safety swiss cheese model

Reference: Layers of Safety: Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model

Employee Screening Guidelines and Requirements 

CDC Guidelines

The CDC recommends that employers implement daily screenings to prevent and reduce COVID-19 transmission (2). 

According to CDC guidance, Employers should: 

  • Encourage sick employees to stay home 
  • Test employees with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and the close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Ask employees who tested positive for COVID-19 to follow isolation procedure 
  • Ask employees to notify them if they are in contact with a sick household member 

State-by-State Requirements 

Currently at least 33 states in the U.S. have made screening employees prior to coming to a physical workspace a requirement. Some states require employee screening prior to each shift. Other states require screening before arriving at work. JD Supra has compiled a list of all the states that have mandatory screening requirements (3). 

Key components of a daily health screening

A return to work program should provide the following services as part of the their daily employee screenings to ensure safety.  This screening solution should also generate “come to work” or “stay home” recommendations based on the answers to the screening questions. 

  • Symptom Tracking  
  • Testing Reports 
  • Exposure Logging
  • Travel Inquiries 
  • Vaccine Tracking 
  • Health Safety Recommendations 

Symptom Tracking 

Employers should have a symptom checker app with surveys to see if employees are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The symptom checker app should ensure no employees with signs of COVID-19 are reporting to the physical work location. 

As per the CDC, potential symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4 degrees
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue, muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

symptom tracking

Testing Reports 

Employers should ask if users have been tested and their results. The CDC recommends testing of individuals with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and their close contacts (2). Establishing a routine testing program also helps companies capture people who are asymptomatic but carry COVID-19 and are silent spreaders. A widespread testing program can help employees stay ahead of COVID-19 cases and prevent transmission. 

Testing results should be accessible from a centralized dashboard. With this information, employers can immediately view positive cases and start contact tracing to minimize further COVID-19 transmission. 

test results management

Exposure Logging

Employees should log their exposure to those infected with COVID-19 and/or sick with a potential COVID-19 infection. Employers should keep track of this information and send the appropriate advisories. For example, they should send quarantine advisories if employees have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.  Anyone who has been exposed should not enter the workplace until they have properly quarantined per the CDC guidelines.  

Travel Inquiries 

In some areas, it is required for employees traveling from certain states to quarantine to ensure they are COVID-free (4). For this reason, employers should ask about recent travel in their health screening. Specifically, they should ask about travel outside of the country or to states on the mandatory quarantine list (4). If yes, they should not enter the workplace until they have met the quarantine exit criteria. 

Vaccine Tracking 

Many companies are waiting for the COVID-19 vaccines to become available to the general public. As they arrive, however, universal vaccine adoption is not guaranteed. Employers should have a vaccine tracking tool to help them manage a mixed immunity environment. 

Companies should consider asking about employees vaccination status and type and offering incentives for adopters. 

vaccine tracking portal

Health Safety Recommendations

It is important to understand how your screening solution generates safety recommendations. The survey and recommendations should help employers meet the screening requirements for their safe return to work program. The screener should ensure that only healthy employees are reporting to work.

Employers should develop a list of scenarios they should be prepared for according to local laws and guidelines. They should know what the response will be for these scenarios individually or in combination. Alongside this they should develop the appropriate recommendations for these cases as in the example below. 

Scenario 1: An employees with no signs or symptoms of COVID-19
Recommendation: Cleared to come to work.

Scenario 2: An employees with a fever above 100.4 and/or a headache and sore throat
Recommendation: Stay home, seek medical attention, and get tested for COVID-19

Scenario 3: Employees that have traveled to states on the mandatory quarantine
Recommendation: Quarantine and/or get tested for COVID-19

Employee screenings play a vital role in return to work programs, but they are only one protection tool. Companies still need to add more “swiss cheese layers” to keep employees safe and prevent outbreaks. 

Book a demo to test out our COVID-19 symptom checker application and vaccine tracking tools! 

(1) The Swiss Cheese Model of Pandemic Defense
(2) Guidance for Businesses & Employers
(3) This Won’t Hurt a Bit: Employee Temperature and Health Screenings – A List of Statewide Orders (UPDATED)
(4) Employees’ Personal Travel Raises COVID-19 Concerns: FAQs For Employers

ReturnSafe Return to Work Newsletter – January 20, 2020

ReturnSafe Return to Work Newsletter – January 20, 2020

As you return to physical workspaces, are you confident in your employee safety program? Does it need to evolve as the new strains and vaccines arrive? Can you make vaccines a requirement? Our resources can help you stay ahead of COVID-19 in 2021 

covid vaccines

Vaccine Program Management Resources for Employers

We curated resources to help you create a COVID-19 vaccine program.
Read more

contact tracing guide

Evaluation Guide for Contact Tracing in the Workplace

Having the right tools to quickly identify positive COVID-19 cases and close contacts reduces transmission and prevents shutdowns. Find out which contact tracing solution is best fit for your organization.
Read more

comply with AB 685

Easily Comply with Cal/OSHA AB 685

Effective January 1, per AB-685, Cal/OSHA can issue orders for the closure of workplaces based on the threat of COVID-19. Keep your doors open with tools to make compliance easy. 
Read more

Are you looking for screening, contact tracing, testing, and vaccine management tools for your organization?
Book a demo with someone on our team to try our tools!

COVID-19 Vaccine Program Management Resources for Employers

COVID-19 Vaccine Program Management Resources for Employers

We’ve assembled resources for employers and administrators to review as you establish vaccine program management policies and procedures.

Latest News and Updates

These resources are updated according to the latest news and information that may impact your organization’s vaccine management program. 

Bloomberg COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
The Bloomberg COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker provides up to date information on the national and global vaccine program. Here you can see the doses allotted and administered. You are also able to determine the phases for available and incoming COVID-19 vaccines and when to expect the next vaccine. 

Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine
The New England Journal of Medicine completed an evaluation of the Pfizer vaccine clinical trials. This article presents their findings on the vaccines safety and efficacy.

Can Employers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines?

Yes, based on the EEOC’s recent ruling, employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccinations provided they accommodate disabilities and religious objections. Given the OSHA Act of 1970 General Duty Clause employers should strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated to ensure workplace safety. 

What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
The ADA notes that a COVID-19 vaccine administered by employers to employees is not a “medical examination”. If employers administer the vaccine, they must demonstrate the pre-screening inquiries asked are “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” 

Can Your Employer Require You to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
Employers can make vaccinations a requirement for continued employment. Nevertheless, administrators should be careful about how they approach employee vaccinations to avoid legal complications. Workers can exempt vaccination based on medical ground or religious beliefs. 

Vaccination Guide for Employers: Frequently Asked Questions
This piece answers common questions employers may have concerning COVID-19 vaccines. 

Employers Prepare COVID-19 Vaccination Policies
This video explains how employers should prepare workplace vaccine policies. They also provide alternative options. To encourage vaccination, they recommend employers provide educational materials, incentives, and convenient access to the vaccine. 

Your Boss May Require You to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine
This article addresses employers ability to require COVID-19 vaccines and public sentiments towards mandates. 

Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line
Considering there is vaccine priority for certain groups, where do you fall in line? This tool calculates where you are in line given the number of people who will need a vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Basic Information

The Federal Government has established goals for national vaccine rollout. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a process to ensure the vaccine is safe to use. 

Operation Warp Speed
Operation Warp Speed is a program run out of the Health and Human Services Federal Government Agency. The goal of this program is to deliver 300 million doses of COVID-19 safe and effective vaccines. 

Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19: Guidance for Industry
The FDA makes the final determination if a vaccine is safe to use in the United States. They have established rigorous standards for the Development and Licensure of Vaccines to prevent COVID-19.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

The CDC has compiled resources to help communities address and understand the COVID-19 vaccine. 

8 Things to Know about the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program
This resource provides important information on the national vaccine rollout and what the public should expect. 

CDC COVID Data Tracker
The CDC COVID Data Tracker keeps track of U.S. COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccination information. We can see the number of vaccine doses distributed and the amount of people who have initiated vaccination. Pfizer and Moderna both require two doses (1).

Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines
U.S. The Food and Drug Administration has granted Emergency Use Authorizations to approve the COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have been shown to be effective and safe. Data from manufacturers and clinical trials show the benefits of the vaccine exceed the harms of a COVID-19 infection. The CDC also outlines the additional measures and monitoring they are taking to ensure safety.

Benefits of Getting Vaccinated
The CDC clearly lays out COVID-19 vaccine information to help people make informed decisions and keep communities safe.

Who Gets Vaccinated First?
The CDC has published their recommendations on the groups they believe should receive the vaccination first. They prioritize specific groups in phases 1a, 1b, and 1c and explain the process by which they are making vaccine recommendations. The groups are healthcare personnel, long-term care facility residents, people who are pregnant and breastfeeding and with underlying medical conditions.

Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine Hesitancy is a serious issue that presents a great threat to global health. Especially in the case of COVID-19, some people have reservations of what is still unknown on vaccine efficacy and side effects. Others have expressed concern about the expedited research and development cycle for the vaccines (2). Like those in the anti-vaccine movement, there are also many people who are misinformed about vaccines.

The CDC website is a great resource to help employees make informed decisions about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and prevent misinformation.

Vaccine Hesitancy: a generation at risk
This article addresses issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. The author(s) outline the role of social media platforms in this issue.

Ten threats to global health in 2019
The WHO noted vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019.

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: December 2020
This resource is ongoing study gauging public sentiment and experiences with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccine Access and Hesitancy: The Public Health Importance of Vaccines
This piece explores the factors driving vaccine hesitancy. This includes concerns about safety, effectiveness, access, equity, as well as distrust in government and healthcare institutions.

Anti-Vaxxers and The Anti-Vaccine Movement

The Anti-Vaccine Movement has gained considerable strength through online platforms and pose a threat to employee vaccine adoption. 

The online anti-vaccine movement in the age of COVID-19
The Lancet Digital Health has a resource outlining the growth of the “anti-vax” movement’s online presence. Experts make the suggestion that refuting anti-vaxxer arguments and misinformation is the strongest defense.

May Employers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines
This article notes that employers may face resistance from employees involved in anti-vaccine groups. It mentions the legal complications that could arise if vaccines are mandated for this group.

Covid-19: U.S. and Pfizer Discuss Deal for Tens of Millions More Vaccine Doses Next Year
More Americans Now Willing to Get COVID-19 Vaccine 

Looking for a vaccine management solution to keep employees healthy and safe? Book a demo to try out our vaccine program management software.

Putting Our Funding to Work

Putting Our Funding to Work

Addressing the Future of Infectious Disease Management and Preventative Health by Reimagining the Employee-Employer Relationship

I still remember the day that I was talking to my parents and sister who live in India and Singapore and thinking to myself “It is only a matter of time until the virus shows up in the U.S. and we will be caught unprepared.” Unprepared because, unlike the countries my family lives in, the U.S. isn’t able to put in place the same level or type of restrictions, mandates, curfews, or health and safety requirements that they can enforce in Asia and in Europe. So I prepared for war.

When my co-founders Jikku Venkat, Jason Story, and I started ReturnSafe in June, our vision was to reinvent the employer/employee relationship by creating the best infectious disease management and wellness solution for the workplace. And because our country — and our world —  was faced with one of the most devastating viruses in nearly 100 years, we knew that our first responsibility would be to put on our combat gear and develop a solution that could slow the spread of the Coronavirus and build the best app to prevent the infectious disease from spreading at the workplace. We each felt a deep responsibility to help with the inevitable recovery a disease like this would require. Business continuity was being disrupted and bound to have a lasting impact on the economy and the people that power it. We resolved to build a tool for organizations to manage COVID and its consequences. A solution that would prevent one positive case from upending everyday life by becoming hundreds.

Here is where our journey, and the journey of ReturnSafe, began. We examined historical data, looked at what other countries deployed to successfully slow the spread of COVID, and recognized that the only way that businesses were going to be successful in keeping their communities healthy and safe was to create a way to screen, test, trace and manage COVID – a four-pillared approach that was effective in stemming the spread of viruses like MERS, SARS, and many others. 

Combining our expertise in technology, design, and healthcare, and tapping the decades of experience from teammates like our chief medical officer Dr. Reef Gillum, we built something in six short months, which has taken most companies years to accomplish.

We Are Family
We are extremely proud of and humbled by what we have accomplished. To date, more than 50 companies from every sector and industry, including long-term care, manufacturing, sports and entertainment, financial services, travel, education, and non-profit organizations have selected ReturnSafe as a partner in their plans to reopen their doors. Our relationship with our customers is intimate and collaborative. We have open and honest conversations that inform our product evolution. Every day, we learn something new from our customers and what we learn from one customer helps us better serve the market overall and together, benefits everyone using the platform. At ReturnSafe, we truly think of our customers like family and are thankful for the trust they put in us to enhance the health and safety of their teams. 

Today, as we share the news of a new funding round led by Fifty Years and Active Capital with additional funding from Necessary Ventures, in a year that many of us would prefer to skip, there is still so much to be thankful for. Our investors have been instrumental to our growth and their belief in our vision gets us excited to think even bigger. Speaking with one such investor recently, Fifty Years founder Seth Bannon talked about the intersection of purpose and profit. He believes that together we are building a new type of company. We are creating a new generation of purpose-driven businesses that reinvest profits to drive greater impact.

Reimagining Employee Health
More than 20 years ago, Pixar was an unknown studio launching their first animated movie, “Toy Story”. They then released “A Bug’s Life”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles” and many, many more, demonstrating that animated movies can be just as entertaining, emotionally moving, and successful as live-action films. 

I believe that this is our Pixar moment. Employee Health has a path to success, and more broadly, will reimagine the relationship between an employer and their employees. With the new funding, we will expand our products to support the evolution of what is going to be needed with COVID, particularly vaccine management. With hope on the horizon and not just one but three COVID vaccines, employers will be faced with a web of ever-changing government regulations and guidelines and will need a way to help manage workplace immunity. More importantly, this funding enables us to go deeper into infectious disease management and preventative health and wellness, COVID being the immediate need, and develop even more impactful solutions for the workplace of the future.  We are not fighting a single battle with COVID but rather preparing for a war that will influence the healthcare system for generations to come. 

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that 2020 will be a year to remember, from one of the most debated presidential elections in the history of our country to the global devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. While no one could have predicted the human toll and mass destruction the pandemic has had on families and businesses, there have been bright spots of human kindness, compassion, and sympathy. We have all found new ways to communicate and connect with loved ones and we hope that the coming year will bring opportunities to celebrate milestones we have missed and carry forth the sentiment of what has become 2020’s motto for many, “In This Together.”  

ReturnSafe Raises $3.25M to Accelerate Adoption of New Workplace Safety and Infectious Disease Management Solution

ReturnSafe Raises $3.25M to Accelerate Adoption of New Workplace Safety and Infectious Disease Management Solution

World’s first infectious disease management platform for employers helps businesses, universities, healthcare facilities, and sports and entertainment venues reopen and stay open. 

AUSTIN, TEXAS  — December 22, 2020 — ReturnSafe, the company establishing new standards and tools for managing safety, health, and well-being in the workplace, today announced $3.25M in funding led by Fifty Years and Active Capital with additional investments from Necessary Ventures. This additional funding follows a rapid period of growth where the company achieved six-figure monthly recurring revenue and onboarded more than 50 organizations in the first six months of operation.  

ReturnSafe’s solution protects tens of thousands of people spanning across health and senior care organizations, educational institutions, sports and entertainment event venues, non-profits, hospitality businesses, manufacturing facilities, professional services, real estate and construction firms, and more from around the globe.

“COVID-19 upended our world and forced the closure of workplaces, schools, and universities. Efforts to mitigate the devastating toll of the pandemic have created additional challenges such as a spike in unemployment and worse educational outcomes,” said Seth Bannon, founder of Fifty Years. “ReturnSafe allows us to fire up our economic, education, and entertainment engines while keeping everyone safe. From Sesame Street to the San Antonio Spurs to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — world-class organizations are relying on ReturnSafe to bring people back to work safely. ReturnSafe is not only helping companies keep their employees safe from COVID-19, it is setting new standards to prevent future disease outbreaks in the workplace.”

“We’ve been impressed by ReturnSafe’s agility in responding to the challenges of reopening physical spaces. Their speed and expertise are meeting the legal and logistical complexities involved here,” said Neil Devani, founder of Necessary Ventures. “Almost every organization will need a reopening plan. Many believe these issues will subside when COVID-19 subsides. We expect the opposite. ReturnSafe’s focus on prevention will also help avoid backslides to the reactive stances that have been so devastating for so many.”

How it Works
ReturnSafe’s infectious disease management platform has established a new paradigm for safety, health, and well-being by offering organizations an integrated solution that prevents and slows the spread of infectious diseases. Included are:

  • A daily symptoms screening app that documents regulatory compliance and enables real-time risk management based on guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and tailored to company-specific HR policies.
  • A testing dashboard provides rapid notifications of positive test results, a requirement for mitigating contagion in fast-moving environments, especially important when lab responses are slow.
  • High-resolution contact-tracing leveraging wearable devices with built-in social distancing alarms, one of the most needed solutions in active environments.
  • Case manager dashboard with workflows for employee isolation and quarantine management.
  • Vaccine management for employers to oversee workplace immunity without compromising on employee safety and privacy, the most recent addition to the platform.

The Team
“We started ReturnSafe for two main reasons – to keep employees safe and healthy and to ensure business continuity by minimizing disruption in the workplace due to the risk of a disease outbreak. COVID-19 has created massive human resources challenges, and while our initial objective is to slow the spread of COVID-19, we recognize a greater need to help employers manage all forms of infectious disease,” said Tarun Nimmagadda, founder and chief executive officer at ReturnSafe. “To reduce liabilities and keep employees safe, companies must adopt new preventative measures and technologies. With this new funding, we will scale our efforts for infectious disease management with new proactive and reactive capabilities like our vaccine and immunity management.”

The founding team, which consists of doctors and medical professionals, public health experts, and technology leaders, has built multiple hundred-million-dollar enterprise software and health-tech companies, deployed enterprise software solutions in more than 100 countries globally, and experienced numerous prior exits valued at greater than $300 million.

About Fifty Years
Fifty Years is a San Francisco based seed fund that backs entrepreneurs solving the world’s biggest problems with technology. The Fifty Years team consists of former founders supporting founders using business as a force for good. They’ve seeded many technology startups shaping the world for the better — companies like Memphis Meats, Solugen, Substack, and NURX. For more information, visit

About Active Capital:
Active Capital is a venture firm designed to lead seed rounds for B2B SaaS companies outside
of Silicon Valley. The firm is founded and run by former B2B SaaS founders with hands-on
experience starting, building, and scaling high growth businesses in underdog cities across America. Active Capital is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and invests in B2B SaaS companies all over. To learn more, please visit
About Necessary Ventures
Necessary Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm investing in companies solving the world’s hardest problems. Our portfolio includes companies like Farmer’s Business Network, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, Talkspace, and Vicarious Surgical. We help companies scale rapidly using mission-based narratives to drive tangible, business outcomes. For more information, please visit:
Other references:


With fast and easy deployment, vaccine Fast Pass increases vaccine adoption and streamlines workplace access.

ReturnSafe, a mission-driven BioSecurity company focused on workplace health safety, announced today the launch of a new vaccine management solution that helps businesses and organizations manage workplace immunity, enabling a safe reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the broad availability of vaccinations on the horizon, there is a new challenge of how to manage a hybrid population in the workplace where some employees will be vaccinated and some will have vaccine hesitancy, perhaps even for the next year to two years. A solution to help manage these diverse populations is critical,” said Tarun Nimmagadda, founder and chief executive officer at ReturnSafe. “Our Vaccine Management solution can be deployed in less than 10 minutes and at the fraction of the cost of some of the larger enterprise solutions, giving small, medium, and large businesses the same access to an essential tool to maintain business continuity. This is just one more way that employers can demonstrate their commitment to providing a safe and healthy place for their employees and customers.” 

app screener and vaccinevaccine tracking portal

The ReturnSafe BioSecurity Platform offers organizations an end to end solution that slows the spread of infectious diseases by implementing critical daily health screening with a symptoms diary and recommendations governed by HR policies; testing data management for quick notification of a positive test, and Bluetooth contact-tracing via smartphone and hardware wearables at the workplace including a built-in social distancing alarm.


With one F.D.A. approved COVID-19 vaccination and two more coming soon, ReturnSafe’s vaccine management tool enables employers to manage workplace immunity by tracking type and date. Employees will provide details from CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards that seamlessly integrate into the ReturnSafe Portal, providing a “fast pass” to returning to the workplace while keeping safety and privacy a priority. By providing real-time insights and metrics on vaccine adoption amongst the workforce, employers can identify when workplace vaccination advocacy campaigns need to be implemented, a key program to successfully achieving herd immunity. 

ReturnSafe supports more than 50 businesses including Spurs Sports & Entertainment, Pennrose, South Texas College of Law Houston, Madonna University, and many more in various industries including health and senior care organizations, educational institutions, sports and entertainment event venues, non-profits, hospitality, manufacturing, law, real estate, financial services and more, protecting more than 20,000 employees throughout the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

Visit our Vaccine Management page to learn more.