We have received several calls from members with questions about steps gins could take to deal with the COVID-19 virus in the workplace. While there is still a lot we don’t know, there are several sources of guidance that might be useful. First of all, you can click here to access the CDC’s posters – it might be a good idea to post these English and Spanish fact sheets provided by the CDC.
One of the biggest things an employer can do is to be sure your workers understand that they need to stay home if they are feeling sick. You should also consider making accommodations for other high-risk workers (or workers caring for high risk individuals), which include older adults, or people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease. You should encourage workers to inform you as soon as possible if they have symptoms. It is important to follow CDC guidelines for these processes – these may change quickly in the coming weeks and months.
Employers may require the use of paid leave if workers are sick, and employers may require unpaid leave once paid leave is exhausted. This is something else that will change in the near future. A bill has passed that will require employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave for workers being tested or treated for coronavirus, have been diagnosed with it, or are caring for a minor child under these scenarios. We will communicate further about this bill soon, but in the meantime you can click here for an explanation (courtesy of Fisher-Phillips) of the bill as we understand it now. Expectations are that this bill will take effect in about two weeks.
One of the many unknowns today is how long workers should stay home if they get coronavirus. CDC has provided 14 days as the elimination period for persons with symptoms, or who are in the CDC high risk category. This is essentially the waiting period for symptoms to appear, but there is no current established waiting period for a person with the virus after the symptoms have disappeared. A final topic to consider for future articles is whether COVID-19 cases are reportable under OSHA rules.
If you have more questions, our friends at Fisher-Phillips have published additional guidelines for employers. Click here to read more from this firm.
We will keep you all informed as we learn more about these issues.