Video – What to Do When Your Employees Have Covid-19: Tips for Small Business Owners

July 16, 2020

When an employee tells you they have Covid-19, what do you do? Tips for small business owners are here and start with having a policy in place to guide your response.

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Like with any employment policy, small business owners should do 4 things regarding a Covid-19 Response Policy for what to do when an employee reports having caught the Coronavirus. Here are 4 steps built around having a Covid-19 policy in your workplace:

  1. Create a Covid-19 Response Policy
  2. Communicate the policy
  3. Follow the policy
  4. Keep the policy current

Every small business needs a solid LIFT Foundation: great legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems in place to let your business flourish. Having sound employment policies is part of having a solid legal system for your business. A Covid-19 Response Policy should be specific to your business and location, but in general there are some things that all such policies should include.

Let employees know what to expect from their employer. Employees should be informed that:

1. They will be asked to report if they have tested positive for Covid-19 or have symptoms of Covid-19;

2. For any employee testing positive or showing symptoms of Covid-19, let them know they will be asked to:

a. Stay home or leave work. Your policy should also outline whether and when employees will be permitted to work remotely and under what circumstances they can return to work from home; and

b. The employer will be asking Employees sick with Covid-19 to report to the employer every employee with whom the sick employee has been in close contact.

3. The policy should be clear that if an employee reports a positive test, the employer will:

a. Limit disclosing the identity of the employee to only those people who need to know;

b. Maintain confidentiality of the report by the sick employee to the full extent possible and required by law;

c. BUT, the employer will also —

i. notify individuals who have been in close contact with the sick employee that an individual has tested positive or shown symptoms. The policy should also specify that while the employer will not disclose the name of the sick employee, it is possible in the name of safety and public health that the identity of the sick employee will be known to others as a result of this report to them; and

ii. The employer will notify public health authorities as may be required by law.

In addition, the employer will:

d. Take immediate steps to clean and disinfect the areas in which the sick employee worked;

e. If not already in practice, initiate taking daily body temperatures of all employees reporting for work; and

f. The policy should let the employees know that the employer will inquire of every employee whether they have been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with or exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19

For specific advice, consult with a lawyer in your jurisdiction. And make sure the lawyer has plenty of experience with employment laws. You and your lawyer will need it.


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