With the number of cases rising, it is inevitable that one of your employees will test positive for COVID-19. This is a scary and tricky thing to handle correctly, so we have prepared a guideline of what to do when this happens. This is not a legal opinion, please refer to your own city and state guidelines for positive coronavirus cases. Consult the Health Department of your city and a lawyer if one of your employees tests positive.
Check in with your employee, how are they doing? The diagnosis is troubling and it could cause a shock for them. Ask what you can do to support them. Do your best to comfort them and do not escalate their panic.
Conduct Contact Tracing and Notify Other Employees for Potential Exposure
Who did the employee interact with? Find out who the employee came in contact with and notify those people that they were exposed to the virus. Do not disclose confidential information, like the name of the employee with the virus or those who have been exposed. Employees are bound to talk about this, but the HR department has a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to not reveal the identity of the sick employee or those who came in contact with the employee. Additionally, offer support to the employees because they may be upset with the news. If your city or state requires you to report positive cases, you will need to share this information with the Health Department.
Identify Work Areas and Sanitize Accordingly
Where did the employee go? Section off their work areas and hire a third party cleaning service to disinfect the area. Even though the virus cannot survive on surfaces for more than a day, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Both the sick employee and the exposed employees must test negative for the virus before they are able to come back to work. If any employee takes sick leave because of the coronavirus, you will have to disclose that information on the 941 Form, which you can read more about here (link article once it is posted).
We hope you never have to go through this process, but being prepared is the key to handling this situation correctly. Be proactive in your protocols and do everything you can to protect your employees. Read our article on how to re-open your office successfully to mitigate the consequences of a positive case. If you would like to learn more about HR and career advice, please consider following Agency 8 on our social media.