The unfortunate COVID-19 outbreak in the United States presents unique and complicated issues for employers big and small. The ultimate appropriate resolution for these issues is not yet known as the length and extent of the disease is currently ever-evolving.
There is, however, an excellent Interim Guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which provides comprehensive recommended strategies that employers can implement immediately.
These include: encouraging sick employees to remain at home and out of the office; placing posters in accessible areas which encourage appropriate “cough and sneeze etiquette,” as well as good hand hygiene; routine use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and routine and thorough cleaning of “frequently touched surfaces in the workplace.”
If you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 you need to inform fellow employees of this unfortunate fact, being mindful of confidentiality requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The CDC recommends that employers create an “Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan” to protect their workforce while allowing for continuous operations.
The CDC has issued an “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers,” as well as recommendations for creating an “Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan.” This comprehensive document can be accessed by clicking the link below.
Other federal agencies such as OSHA have also issued guidance for dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace. See the link below. It is likely that OSHA regulations dealing with hazard assessments and protective equipment in the workplace will ultimately govern proper development and implementation of the precautionary measures recommended by the CDC.
Employers should check the CDC website dealing with COVID-19 on a daily basis as this is a rapidly evolving situation impacting employee well-being.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
- OSHA – https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
- OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 – https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf