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Protocols for Employees Sick at Work

June 10, 2020

Employees may develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at work. Businesses should consider developing sick at work policies and procedures to handle these situations properly.

If an employee complains of signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19, we recommend erring on the side of caution. The organization should treat the employee, who may be ill, in a humane and caring manner, while also safeguarding the health and wellbeing of other employees.

Your Action Plan

Businesses should consider developing policies and procedures for the prompt identification and isolation of an employee who reports feeling ill in the workplace with symptoms of COVID-19 while being considerate of the employee’s privacy rights. As stated above, the prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, customers, visitors, and others at a worksite.

To that end, organisations should inform and encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure. In addition, organisations should consider policies and procedures for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (or witness a colleague exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19) as the following:

  • All employees should be instructed to immediately report any symptoms of COVID-19 experienced during the work shift to their supervisors or managers. Supervisors and managers should be trained on how to handle symptomatic employees.
  • Any team member exhibiting such symptoms during the work shift can be asked to wear a mask (if not already wearing one) and be sent to a dedicated holding area. This area should not be the infirmary/first aid room and have separate access to the outside of the building/work area. The employee should be asked to avoid touching common work surfaces.
  • The employee should be sent home. Note: The organisation should consider developing a plan for transportation from the facility, especially if the employee did not arrive by personal vehicle. The plan should also specify how the employee may seek medical support.
  • Advise the employee of the availability of wellness and/or Employee Assistance Plan services (as appropriate).
  • The work area, tools, and equipment handled by the symptomatic employee should be immediately cleaned, sanitised, and disinfected.
  • Employees who have come into close contact with the symptomatic employee should be advised to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and avoid sharing tools or equipment for 14 days. Additionally, common touchpoints and surfaces contacted by possibly symptomatic employees should receive an increased frequency of cleaning and sanitising.

Businesses should inform and encourage employees to self- monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure. It is essential that all employees stay vigilant and cooperate with company protocol in order to ensure the safety of themselves and their colleagues.