Who Pays for the COVID Test?

Employees want to know: who pays for a COVID test if employers require one?  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

While the EEOC has said that employers may require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a study conducted by law firm Littler Mendelson found that fewer than ten percent of employers planned to require one.  Many instead are opting to offer a choice: either be vaccinated or provide negative COVID testing before returning.  There is no cost for getting the vaccine, but who pays for the COVID test?

If an employee carries insurance, the government issued guidance says health plans must cover COVID testing without a copay, even if the individual is asymptomatic, has no known or suspected exposure, and no prior medical authorization.  If the employee isn’t insured, the question is a little murkier because there’s no specific regulation.  But if an employee’s pay would be less than minimum wage after paying for the test, the employer could potentially face wage suits, which would be a bigger cost to fight than simply to pay for the test.

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