If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do
If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do

Everyone needs a plan to fall back on if and when an employee gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19. Below you'll find the step-by-step guide on how your company should proceed if one of your employees tests positive for Coronavirus.

Get Template Letter to Use if Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

6 Steps To Take If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

UPDATE July 30: This article has been updated to take into account the CDC’s latest guidance, issued on June 20.

  1. Offer Support
  2. We’re all moving fast in this new world and it can feel like we’re flying blind, so this is just a reminder of what you already know: if an employee lets you know they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, take a moment to be there for them. As a leader of your company, there are of course professional limitations of what “being there” means—you won’t be able to offer health advice, that’s for sure—but still, HR is often on the frontlines of tough conversations, and you know from experience to lead with emotional intelligence.

  3. Explain Your Company’s Policy

  4. Don’t have one? This is a pretty good start:
    1. Ask them to quarantine –meaning self-isolation, not coming into work or working remotely if possible—for at least 10 days. Before ending home isolation, employees should consult CDC guidance.
    2. Inform them of available PTO and sick leave options, most importantly the enhanced paid sick leave offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. (Of course, if the employee can work remotely, they may not require sick leave. In any case, it’s good for them to know that sick leave is there for them if they need it now or over the course of the 14+ days.)
    3. Explain ADA privacy rules: you will not reveal the fact they tested positive to their colleagues, unless instructed to. You should ask them whether their manager/supervisor can know—if not, they should only be told that the employee is on a leave of absence for non-disciplinary reasons.

  5. Assess Risk
  6. Ask the employee about their activity in the 14 days prior to testing positive. Identify the areas of the workplace (or workplaces) the employee spent most of their time and with what colleagues they had close contact—the CDC defines this as being within 6 feet for a prolonged period.

    You should also establish what clients, vendors or third-parties the employee was in close contact with in the 14 days prior to testing positive. These individuals should be contacted. This shouldn’t be the end of your communication with the sick employees. If possible, you and other senior leaders should call regularly to offer support.

  7. Take Action
  8. At this point, leadership will have some decisions to make. Unless your whole team works remotely (and has for at least 14 days), here’s what you must do:

    1. Deep clean any area of the workplace in which the employee spent time
    2. Instruct those who were in close contact with the employee to self-isolate for 14 days
    3. Inform the rest of your organization (or at least those based in the same workplace)
    4. If you believe the employee contracted the virus at work, you may need to notify the OSHA

    Remember—facts on the ground are rapidly changing, so before making decisions, get expert advice. Find the latest news using the Top 10 Coronavirus sources you can trust. You should also consult your local health department to inform them and ask for any best practices in your region.

  9. Inform At-Risk Employees
  10. Inform employees who were in close contact with the employee that you have reason to believe that they were in contact with someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19, without mentioning the affected employee’s name or any easily-identifiable information (such as their job title).

    Instruct the at-risk employee to self-isolate for 14 days, tell them to watch out for symptoms and suggest they contact their healthcare provider. If the period self-isolation means they will not be able to work, they should be placed on paid sick-leave, either under company policy or using the new emergency sick leave package offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

    Most of all, you should offer your full support and sympathy. If they are currently at work, instruct them to go home as soon as possible.

  11. Inform All Employees
  12. Rumors may spread, so it’s important that the rest of the company (or relevant division/workplace) learn the news from you. Again, do not name the employee who tested positive.

    Instead, let employees know what action will be taken and reassure them all that you and the company are doing everything possible to ensure their safety. Encourage everyone to inform HR of any question or concerns they may have.

    While a (virtual) all-hands meeting is a good venue for this conversation, it’s also important to follow up with an email laying out clearly the steps your company will take.

    Get Customizable Sample Communication to Employees

    During a crisis, you need calm and effective communication. That’s why Paycor is sharing a customizable sample communication to send to your team if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

    Workforce Communication Letter: Employee Tests Positive For Coronavirus

More to Discover

Webinar: My Supervisors Need Training - Where Do I Start? - 11/25 @11AM ET

Webinar: My Supervisors Need Training - Where Do I Start? - 11/25 @11AM ET

This session is approved for (1) HRCI & (1) SHRM CreditWhen an individual is promoted to a supervisory role, appropriate training is often limited by the time, resources and budget on hand. It’s not unusual to find managers who have been in the role for ten, fifteen or even twenty years with no formal supervisory training. Training is often “on-the-job” – otherwise known as trial by fire. In order to have strong, effective supervisors, it is worth the investment of time and resources to provide proper training.In this session, you will learn: - Essential elements of an effective supervisor training program - How to assist supervisors in implementing what they have learned (and how to follow up with them) - How to provide proper and...

Webinar: Manufacturing & Construction Industry Spotlight: Ask an HR Expert - 11/19 @11AM ET

Webinar: Manufacturing & Construction Industry Spotlight: Ask an HR Expert - 11/19 @11AM ET

Let your voice be heard as we’re providing an hour with leading Manufacturing expert John Thurmond to answer your most pressing HR questions as they relate to the unique challenges in manufacturing.If we use your question on our webinar, we will send you a $25 Uber Eats gift card as a thank you.This is a great opportunity for you to get complimentary HR expertise for your organization.Simply register for our webinar and email your question to webinars@paycor.comSpeaker: Jon ThurmondThursday, November 19 11Am ET

Webinar: Gratitude Webinar Series: Creating a Culture of Gratitude in the Workplace - 11/17 @2pm ET

Webinar: Gratitude Webinar Series: Creating a Culture of Gratitude in the Workplace - 11/17 @2pm ET

November is National Gratitude Month! To celebrate, we're hosting a webinar to highlighting strategic ways to create a positive work environment and show gratitude for employees.Join us to learn: • The true definition of gratitude • Ways to build a positive team culture. • Tips to overcome negativity • Incentive programs for employees • Employee reward and recognition ideasDon't miss this webinar! Register today.Speaker: Melissa Dern Melissa is a HR Service Solutions Lead with Strategic HR Inc. Melissa is a dynamic HR Generalist with 20 years of experience. Melissa brings a wealth of expertise as an HR Generalist with a diverse background in recruiting, staffing operations, management and sales. Tuesday, November 17 2pm ET

Webinar: Why You Need an Employee Handbook - 11/12 @2pm ET

Webinar: Why You Need an Employee Handbook - 11/12 @2pm ET

To protect your organization from costly lawsuits, you need to develop an employee handbook. Join Kara Govro, attorney and HR expert, as she discusses the key benefits of an employee handbook and why it may be your organization’s single most important document. In this webinar you’ll learn: • Key purposes of an employee handbook • What it does and does not do • Critical policies to include in your handbook • Language and policies to avoid Register now! Speaker: Kara Govro Kara Govro is a Senior Legal Editor for Mammoth HR and been with Mammoth HR for over 5 years. **Thursday, November 12 2pm ET