CDC Publishes Interim Coronavirus Guidance for Employers
The CDC notes that "this interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the epidemiology of 2019-nCoV and the transmission of other viral respiratory infections." The guidance will be updated as more information becomes available. The CDC recommendations are re-stated in part below.
CDC Recommended strategies for employers to use now
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:
The CDC recommends that employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (defined as 100.4° F or greater), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
The CDC further recommends that, in this regard, Employers:
- Ensure their sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
- Talk with companies that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
- Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
- Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member.
Separate sick employees:
The CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees:
- Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen. CDC posters can be accessed here.
- Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
- Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
Perform routine environmental cleaning:
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.
- Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:
- Advise employees to check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which they will travel.
- Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
- If outside the United States, a U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the 2019-nCoV:
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with 2019-nCoV should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have 2019-nCov infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to 2019-nCoV in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed 2019-nCoV should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.