The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published an Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to outline its recommended strategies for employers to use in responding to the coronavirus.
The Interim Guidance is intended to assist businesses to prevent workplace exposures to the coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses and to determine the risk of coronavirus in the workplace.
The CDC recommends that employers take the following steps:
- Actively encourage sick employees (those with symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough and shortness of breath) to stay home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours.
- Separate sick employees and send them home immediately.
- Encourage healthy practices, including emphasizing that sick employees stay home and urging employees to clean their hands often.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning, focusing on frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, counter tops, and doorknobs. (The CDC does not currently recommend additional cleaning efforts beyond routine efforts.)
- Advise employees to review the CDC’s travel health notices before traveling and to check themselves for symptoms of respiratory illness upon their return.
If an employee is confirmed to have the coronavirus, employers should inform other employees of their possible exposure in the workplace. At the same time, employers must be careful to maintain the confidentiality of the exposed employee’s health information, so the notice of exposure should not identify the specific employee who tested positive.
The CDC also cautions that employers cannot use employees’ race or country of origin in implementing these steps to avoid discriminating on the basis of race or national origin.