My Employee had COVID-19: What Do I Do?

employee has covidWhile COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more and more available, and while many individuals in the US have been vaccinated, the coronavirus pandemic is still very prevalent. US health officials have said that it may take well into next year before life returns to normal, so it is crucial that businesses are still taking the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe, including their employees.

How to keep work safe

There are many steps you can take to keep your business as safe as possible for your employees. Here are some recommendations from a business attorney Seattle:

  • Require employees to wear face coverings
  • Provide face masks for employees 
  • Keep sanitation products readily available, such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays
  • Regularly take the temperature of those at work
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces
  • Spread desks, if possible, and
  • Create a plan if an employee is infected with COVID-19

What to do when an employee becomes sick

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to what you should do when an employee becomes sick. Do you force them to go home? What if they aren’t showing symptoms? Does the entire office need to shut down? While the recommendations below are by no means comprehensive, they should give you a general guide for the steps to take when an employee becomes infected. For recommendations for your specific situation, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Seattle business attorney.

Send the infected employee home

Sending the infected employee home is the first step you should be taking once you hear of the news. Even if your employee is only showing the symptoms of COVID, you could let them go home without seeing a positive test. You do not want this employee to make you or anyone else sick or exposed. CDC guidelines will explain how long they should stay home, and local health officials will be able to help answer questions about the safe duration of self-isolation. 

Do Not Publicly Announce That They’re Infected

The information about a positive COVID-19 test is confidential to your employee, so you should not be telling everyone in the office about it. Instead of talking about it widely, talk to the infected employee about who they may have come into contact with. At this point, you may tell the potentially exposed employees about the situation without giving them the name of the infected employee. If you share your employee’s confidential health information, you could be breaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws. A business lawyer Seattle can help with any concerns you may have about this.

Provide Sick Leave

If your business allows for remote work, this is an excellent alternative to have. However, if your business does not allow for remote work, you will want to provide sick leave. Sick leave will encourage your employees to stay home when they are infected or are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.  If you do not currently provide sick leave, you may want to consider providing emergency paid sick leave. Consult with local Seattle business lawyers if you have any questions about this process. They will be able to help you handle the legal logistics of sick leave pay. 

Clean the office

If an infected employee has shown up to the office, be sure to thoroughly clean any areas they may have been in contact with. In regards to your other employees, local health officials will be able to help you determine who should be sent home as a precaution. If you believe the infection originated in the office, be sure to contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and they should be able to help you take the necessary next steps. 

How a Lawyer can Help

There are lots of unknowns with the coronavirus when it comes to a business’ legal proceedings. Trusted business litigation attorneys Seattle can help answer any questions you have about it. Do not hesitate to contact the Seattle business attorneys at Frey Buck today.