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Editor's Note: Employers should create and maintain written policies for handling confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infections in the workplace. Although such policies are especially important for employers that have on-site workers, all employers should prepare for and address the possibility of employee infection. Employers can use this model to create their own policy that communicates company Covid-19 practices and procedures to workers. Before finalizing a Covid-19 workplace policy, employers should review the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and developments from their state and local government.
COVID-19 POLICY FOR ON-SITE WORKERS
Employees are prohibited from coming to their worksite if they do not qualify to resume on-site duties under this policy and they:
• feel sick or have any symptoms of a Covid-19 infection;
• test positive for Covid-19; or
• are required or advised by their health care provider or federal, state, or local health authorities to quarantine or isolate.
For information on returning to your worksite after exposure or infection, see Resuming On-Site Duties.
For purposes of this policy, symptoms of Covid-19 are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and available on their website. They include:
• Fever (100.4F (38C) or higher) or chills
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Muscle or body aches
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
Comment: Some states advise a lower temperature threshold for Covid-19 screening. Employers should review state public health guidance before implementing policies or procedures that involve temperature checks.
The symptoms listed below are considered more serious and employees who experience them should seek immediate medical attention:
• Trouble breathing
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• New confusion
• Inability to wake or stay awake
• Bluish lips or face
Any employee who is prohibited from reporting to their worksite under this policy must notify their immediate manager or [other designated person].
[Company] will make every effort to maintain confidentiality, however, employers may be required to report infections to federal, state, or local government agencies.
[Company] will inform other employees if they have been exposed to the virus but will not reveal the identity of the infected employee.
Comment: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has acknowledged that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to keep employees’ health information confidential, regardless of the pandemic. Employers should be careful to maintain employee privacy when addressing Covid-19 infections and maintain any records of employees’ health information separately from their personnel files. See EEOC's Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c)(1).
Employees who are prohibited from reporting to work under this policy are entitled to the following leave: [describe leave available]
Comment: Employees may be entitled to leave under existing leave policies, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or applicable state law. See Federal and State Comparison Chart: Paid Sick Leave.
Employees will be notified if they are exposed to Covid-19 at work. Employees are not entitled to know the identities of infected employees.
If exposure occurs, all or part of the worksite will be temporarily closed to allow for cleaning and disinfection.
Employees who test positive for Covid-19 are permitted to resume on-site duties for [Company] if they satisfy the CDC's guidelines. The CDC's guidelines are available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/end-home-isolation.html.
Comment: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's generally safe for individuals who have Covid-19 infections to be around others after 10 days after symptoms first appeared, if they have gone 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and their other symptoms are improving. However, individuals with weakened immune systems may be required to isolate for a longer period.
Comment: Employers can require workers to have a negative Covid-19 virus test or be cleared by a medical worker before resuming on-site duties. However, the CDC advises against such requirements. Employers that choose to require testing or medical approval should consider factors like testing availability, the burden on the health care system, and cost to workers.
Comment: Employers cannot require workers to undergo antibody testing before resuming on-site duties. Antibody tests, which do not test for the active virus, do not satisfy the ADA's “job related and consistent with business necessity standard” and cannot be required for employees resuming on-site duties. See EEO's What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, A.7.
Employees who are required or advised to quarantine can resume their on-site duties when permitted by state and local health guidelines. [Add link to local health department website.]
Comment: The CDC generally recommends that people quarantine for 14 days after last exposure but allows for shortened time periods in certain circumstances depending on the recommendation of local health authorities. Employers should consult their local health department website for guidance. For links to state quarantine laws and resources, see State Quarantine and Public Health Laws.