When an employee tests positive for COVID-19, there are several factors to consider before an employer can decide if it is safe for the employee to return to work after isolating at home.
Before an employee can return to the workplace, employers across the country are entitled to receive confirmation of negative test results to make sure the employee is no longer contagious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued interim guidance for non-healthcare workers regarding when employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 can come out of isolation and potentially return to work. CDC guidance identifies two strategies. The first strategy assumes testing is not available or accessible to employees, so we will only address the second strategy here—which relies on testing.
Employees who have had a positive COVID-19 test result confirmed by a CLIA-certified laboratory and had symptoms should be tested again 10 days after they have been symptom free for three days.
Employees who tested positive for COVID-19 through a CLIA-certified laboratory test but did not have symptoms should be tested again 10 days after their initial positive result.
Whether or not an employee had symptoms, it is extremely important that they limit contact with others and wear a mask that covers both their nose and mouth when in public for at least three days after coming out of isolation.
When determining if an employee can return to the workplace, CDC guidance recommends that each employer make contextual decisions based on specific workplace environments and circumstances.
Employers must also decide whether current risk management efforts (e.g., social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitation protocols) are sufficient enough to allow employees to return to work who have tested positive for COVID-19.
There are minimum requirements that business leaders should implement to prevent COVID-19 infections and minimize coronavirus-related health risks in the workplace.
In addition, employers can keep their workforce safe during the coronavirus pandemic by using simple software tools to monitor workforce health and remain compliant.