Developing Protocols for Covid-19 Positive Employees
Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in the United States. This means more and more employers are having to figure out what to do when their employees contract the virus. Fisher Phillips, the employment law firm, suggests taking the following steps when an employee tests positive for COVID-19:
1. Isolate/Quarantine the Employee: Instruct the infected employee to remain at home in quarantine until they are released by a health official. If they are unable to receive a note releasing them from quarantine, have them follow the CDC guidelines for discontinuing self-isolation.
2. Conduct Contact Tracing: As soon as you learn that one or more employees has been diagnosed, have them identify all other employees or third parties who might have been exposed during the infectious period. Have them use the “6-15-48” rule, meaning those who worked in “close proximity” (within six feet) for a prolonged period of time (15 minutes or more) with the infected employee during the 48-hour period before the onset of symptoms.
3. Address Those Who Fit in the “6-15-48” Rule: You should notify all workers who were in contact with the infected employee. There are specific CDC guidelines for non-critical infrastructure workers and critical infrastructure workers and how they can continue to work after being notified. Click here to learn more.
4. Record, Report, and Investigate: OSHA recently unveiled new recordkeeping requirementsrequiring covered employers to make an increased effort to determine whether they need to record and report confirmed coronavirus cases in the workplace. To ensure compliance, you should document your efforts to determine if the positive COVID-19 case was work-related. To learn what steps you should take to figure out the work-relatedness of a recent COVID-19 case, click here.
5. Clean and Disinfect: Follow the CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting the workplace after a positive COVID-19 case. Make sure the cleaning staff or third-party sanitation contractor cleans all the areas the infected employee went or may have went, focusing on common touched surfaces, such as door handles.
6. Determine what Other Employees or Third Parties Should Be Notified: When an employee tests positive for COVID-19, you should notify all employees who work in same area as the infected employees, as well as any third parties that might have been exposed. Remember that notifying others should be done without revealing any confidential medical information unless you obtained the employee’s signed authorization to disclose their diagnosis.
7. Determine Eligibility for Paid Time Off: Consider your company policy as well as any local, state, or federal guidelines to determine if the infected employee or any others qualify for paid time off. If you are a covered employer under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the infected employee may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave.
Fisher Phillips is continuing to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and will be providing updates as necessary, so be sure to check their website for any changes before following these steps. In addition, SHRM has curated a list of resources for employers to use when they have a positive COVID-19 case. Click here to view them!