COVID 19 Update: Return to Work Guidelines

As businesses are allowed to re-open, there are many questions surrounding the best practices in phasing back to “normal” operations.  Communicating with your employees and acting in ways that show your concern for employee health and safety may see a reduced risk of employee illness and increased productivity. Be open and honest with your employees, even if you do not have all the answers right now.
Policies to consider before employees return to work onsite:
  • Social distancing may be a company mandate, rather than a suggestion.
  • Meeting rooms/break rooms may need capacity limits and extra sanitization.
  • Temperature checks may be required each day. You will need to communicate if and how these will be conducted.
  • It may make sense for some of your workforce to continue to work from home or in flexible shifts.  Make sure you have flexible workplace policies in place and communicate them to your employees.
  • Additional cross-training of positions may be needed to accommodate employee absences.
  • If you have allowed your employees to work from home, understand that some employees may need to take advantage of emergency FMLA to continue to care for their children.

There are different guidelines for employees who were quarantined (with no symptoms or COVID 19 positive tests), off to care for a family member, or quarantined due to a positive test.

Quarantined for reasons other than having the virus (no symptoms or medical test completed)

  • Can return to work after 14 days of quarantine, even if in close contact with others, or when “shelter in place” is lifted.

Positive COVID 19 Test or Symptomatic

  • TEST BASED RETURN TO WORK STRATEGY:  Can return to work after two consecutive NEGATIVE tests given seven days after symptoms first appeared and 72 hours from being fever-free with no respiratory symptoms.
  • NON-TEST BASED RETURN TO WORK STRATEGY:  Can return to work three days (72 hours) after having no fever without taking fever-reducing medicines, and seven days have passed since the first appearance of symptoms.

Doctor’s Release Requirement

  • Employers can ask for a doctor’s release to work, but if the person was quarantined and not having any symptoms, the doctor will not normally write the release. If you ask for a release, you must ask for a release from every employee who has been quarantined or COVID-19 positive.

Employee Concerns

An employee can refuse to come to work if:
  • The employee has a specific fear of infection that is based on fact, not just a generalized fear of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • The employer is unable to address the employee’s specific fear in a manner designed to ensure a safe working environment.

If an employee refuses to come back to work because they are making more money on unemployment, please notify your HR representative or the Department of Workforce Development.

Employers will need to consider the employees’ legal rights and any applicable OSHA, NLRA, and/or ADA regulations as it relates to an employee returning to work.

Click here for the specific three-phase guidelines for individuals and businesses.

Human Capital Concepts does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.