Employer Defense Report Info
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Frequently Asked Questions for Employers
How are YOU and YOUR Business preparing for Covid19 requirement?.
Below are some of the FAQs which seem to arise the most concerning the guidance from the CDC.
If some of my employees are sick, can I encourage them to stay at home?
Yes, in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines, employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F or greater using an oral thermometer), 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). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Can I make it mandatory for my employees to report their illnesses to supervisors?
Yes, if an employee is unable to report to work due to illness, you can require that the employee notify his or her immediate manager before the scheduled start of the shift. However, employers should not require its employees to disclose the nature of the illness at the time of the absence for privacy issues. The ADA does not permit such an inquiry in the absence of objective evidence that symptoms will cause a direct threat. Such evidence is completely absent before a pandemic occurs and/or is declared by the CDC, which it has not as of this date.
However, if a pandemic has been declared by the CDC and an employer has a reasonable belief that an employee has been exposed to, or has contracted, COVID-19, or is experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as a fever or chills and a cough or sore throat, the employer can send that employee home to protect the rest of the workforce, ask the employee to disclose certain health information and may require the employee to undergo medical testing before returning to work.
Can I make it a requirement for my employees to seek medical attention when they are ill?
Depending on the nature of the illness, employers should encourage their employees to seek medical care if their symptoms necessitate it, otherwise, to address their symptoms at home. And, if an employer reasonably believes, on an individualized assessment, that an employee might have been exposed to COVID-19, the employer can ask the employee to disclose certain health information and may require the employee to undergo medical testing before returning to work.
Can I require my employees to provide medical documentation on being cleared to return to work after they have been sick with a fever?
Yes, an employer may require that an employee provide a medical note supporting clearance to return to work after three (3) days of being absent for work due to illness. However, as a practical matter, the CDC’s guidelines are that companies should 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 be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
If an employee has been traveling for work or personal reasons, can I require them to disclose if they traveled in areas where they may come in contact with COVID-19?
If the CDC or state or local public health officials recommend that people who visit specified locations remain at home for several days until it is clear they do not have pandemic influenza symptoms, employers may ask whether employees are returning from these locations, even if the travel was personal.
Do I have to provide respirators or face masks if requested by an employee requests ?
No, not if the employer has determined that respiratory protection is not required to address a health hazard (i.e., there is no foreseeable exposure to a toxic chemical or an airborne illness in the workplace). In such circumstances, the employer is permitted to refuse requests from employees to voluntarily use respirators. However, if employers are inclined to permit voluntary use of N-95 filtering face-piece masks, or more substantial masks, it is important to understand that OSHA considers those to be respirators, covered by OSHA’s respiratory protection standard. Surgical masks are not covered by the standard. Employers must confirm that use of the masks does not create a health hazard before permitting voluntary use of the masks, and then must provide a copy of or the contents of Appendix D of OSHA’s respirator standard to any employee permitted to use the masks. If more substantial respirators (e.g., tight-fitting full face respirators) are permitted for voluntary use, the employer must also fit test the employee and ensure a medical evaluation is completed to confirm the employee can safely use the respirator. Notably, OSHA has stated that surgical masks are not considered respirators; thus, to the extent employers are permitting the use of surgical masks or employees are asking to wear surgical masks, Appendix D and other requirements would not apply.
IF you have any additional needs or questions, please feel free to contact Compliance & Safety First either by email or calling us direct: