COVID-19: Dealing with Potential Symptoms

More and more employers are encouraging employees to stay at home if they are sick or if they have symptoms that may correspond with an acute respiratory illness. In the interest of efficiency, some employers are simply circulating (or cutting and pasting from) the recommendations as set forth in this: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html 

While employers need to move quickly, that is not mutually exclusive from thinking through with celerity legal and practical, such as:

  1. The CDC guidance does not specifically list in one place the symptoms that may indicate acute respiratory illness. Employers may wish to spell them out.  Ideally, an employer should check with a medical professional before doing so. Without my providing medical advice, it is my understanding that the following are three (3) of the more common symptoms of an acute respiratory condition.
    1. (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater)
    2. Coughing
    3. Shortness of breath
  2. The CDC language speaks to “employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness.” […]
  3. Some of the symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath, may be consistent with conditions that are not contagious, such as asthma. […]
  4. An employer may wish to send an employee home who is experiencing symptoms that may be consistent with an acute respiratory condition. […]
  5. If an employer has a policy or practice relative to requiring employees to stay at home and/or sending them home if they have certain symptoms, employers need to consider whether to impose the same requirements on independent contractors and visitors as well as on employees employed by a temporary agency or contractor. […]

These are but some of the issues that an employer may wish to consider when dealing with an employee who has “only” possible symptoms of COVID-19 or another respiratory illness.

Now, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Think of someone you love and the time will go quickly!

To read the full blog post by Duane Morris partner Jonathan Segal, visit the SHRM website.