Last updated 3/10/2020, 2pm
As concerns over the Coronavirus continue to grow, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations for employers to protect their employees and businesses. Please note that these recommendations are continuously updated.
Key recommendations include:
- Employers should provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for employees.
- Employers should provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Employers should instruct employees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, less preferential, clean their hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60–95% alcohol.
- Employers should actively encourage any sick employee to stay home. Employees should be free of fever, fever symptoms, or acute respiratory illness (coughing, difficulty breathing) for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or symptom-altering medications before returning to work.
- Employers should likewise encourage third parties like contract and temporary employees to stay home.
- Employees travelling to any destination should check the CDC's Traveler’s Health Notices first.
- Employees should be guided to stay home and notify their employer if they exhibit any of the symptoms described above or otherwise feel sick.
- If an employee is confirmed to have the Coronavirus, the employer should immediately inform his or her fellow employees. However, they should maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers and employees can consult the CDC's guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment.
- Employees should be guided that, if a family or household member has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, they should immediately notify their employer and refer to the CDC's guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment.
Further recommendations include:
- Employers should monitor and plan for employee absenteeism and form contingency plans to ensure continued essential business operations. These should include:
- Cross-training personnel to perform essential functions.
- Evaluating the business's essential functions, employee roles, supply chain operations, and any reliance by clientele on services or products.
- Planning alternate business procedures to maintain operations.
- Considering, and preparing for, remote work/telecommuting and flexible work hours.
- Accounting for outside factors like closed childcare and schools.
- Employers should ensure contact information is up to date for all employees and establish communication procedures, focusing on dispelling fear, anxiety, and misinformation.
- Employers should monitor state and local health departments to confirm channels of communication and disseminate information as needed.
It is also important to note that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will amend the Paid Sick Leave budget proposal to specifically protect people who stay home from work because they are being isolated or quarantined as a result of the Coronavirus. Among other things, this will obligate employers to provide their employees compensation and job protection, as provided by New York State Paid Family Leave law.