When Should Employees Return to Work After COVID-19?
May 5, 2020
Determining when an employee may return to work, if at all, is tricky. Employers should craft company policies with the aid of medical professionals to reduce the likelihood of risk.
Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to determine when they should allow employees who have been sick with COVID-19 back to work. The problem is more acute in industries with ongoing worker shortages due to illness and preexisting worker shortage problems. Guidance from federal regulators can be confounding to follow when determining if an employee may return. Employers are may also find it difficult to determine what precautions if any must be taken if the employee is to return to work. Employers may also find themselves open to liability if they fail to take the proper precautions when allowing employees back after illness. The potential of reinfection exists, furthermore, the employee could infect more of the workplace. Significantly, employees may present asymptomatic, leading employers to believe employees are not infected. Employers who do not conduct regular testing are are significant risk of putting employee and customer health at risk. What is clear from CDC and OSHA guidance is that workplace policies, including "Return-to-work-criteria, should be crafted with medical insight. Employers, now more than ever, should rely on medical professionals to craft workplace policies to ensure a healthy workplace that is compliant with state and federal guidelines. Ensuring customer and employee safety is essential to avoiding potential liability, and loss of sales. Employers should have medical providers craft company policies for the foreseeable future.