As many businesses return to work after the stay-at-home order from the COVID-19 pandemic – and even as essential businesses continue to work amidst the quarantine – business owners may question how they should handle symptoms or positive cases in the workplace. The following protocol has been recommended by Employment and Business Law attorney Terin Cremer of Barbas Cremer, PLLC:
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace BUT maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Those who have symptoms should self-isolate and follow CDC recommended steps:
• Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met and cleared by healthcare provider
•Pre-screen employees (e.g., measuring the employee’s temperature and assessing symptoms of COVID-19 prior to starting work) and perform regular medical monitoring (e.g., the employee should self-monitor for symptoms or follow up with the employer’s occupational health program) of exposed workers.
• Consult with an occupational health provider and state and/or local health officials to ensure that medical monitoring is conducted appropriately.
Maintaining open, honest communication will assist with keeping everyone as healthy as possible and the workplace as safe as can be, which also limits a business owner’s liability exposure. Stay tuned for updates and additional tips on how to handle these types of situations and be safe!