Whether you’re operating an essential business where employees are still showing up for work or managing a remote staff, the fact is there a very real possibility that an employee tests positive for COVID-19. In either case, it is important that your organization react quickly, appropriately, and always remain in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. As always, these are suggestions on how to handle a situation are meant for informational purposes only.
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Show Your Support for if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
Lead with empathy and emotional intelligence in handling this information. Offer guidance on resources and next steps so that your employee can feel respected and supported during this time. Ask them to self- quarantine. If your employees still come into and office or physical location ask the infected employee to please go home and self-isolate, not coming into work for at least 14 days. Before they return to work and end home quarantine they should consult CDC guidelines.
Inform Your Employee of Sick Leave Options
Inform them of available PTO and sick leave options, including emergency paid sick leave. Effective April 1, 2020, the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide employees with two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. There is new legislation that continues to come out so we advise you to consult our COVID-19 Resource page for the latest information on the FFCRA, EFMLA and CARES Act.
Always Maintain Confidentiality when an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
Follow ADA privacy rules. Ask the employee if he or she grants the employer permission to disclose the fact that the employee tested positive. If yes, then notify employee’s manager that the employee tested positive for COVID-19 and is out on leave. If no, then notify employee’s manager only that employee is on leave of absence for non-disciplinary purposes. In either case disclose the identity of employee through any required notification to OSHA or the health department.
Assess Risk to Your Workplace
If this employee was in the office or business location with others, ask about their activity in the last 14 days prior to taking the test. Identify if this employee was in close contact with other employees (per CDC this is within 6 feet). Additionally, determine if this employee had any contact with clients or vendors during this time period. These people should be contacted and made aware of the situation.
Take Appropriate Action
Inform anyone who may have interacted with the employee that they were in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 without mentioning the employee’s name or identity. Instruct any of those who had close contact with this employee to self-isolate for 14 days and to be aware of any symptoms. Additionally, they should contact their health care provider. Inform the rest of the organization that an employee has tested positive without identifying the individual. Inform employees of the actions being taken and assure them that their safety is paramount.
Visit the CTR COVID-19 Information Center to Stay Up-To-Date
The CTR COVID-19 Information Center provides continuing updates, breaking news, and wide array of other resources to help you and your organization stay current throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Click the link below to view our resources and check back often for new information.