By Molly Wood, SPHR, MAOL Senior HR Consultant
Positive tests and hospitalizations due to COVID have been steadily on the rise since July of 2023. While the burden on employers regarding COVID reporting and isolation has lessened, there are still practices that are required if you have an employee who lets you know they have tested positive for COVID.
Here is a recap of how employers need to respond in the case of an employee positive test, per the California Department of Public Health:
- Employees who test positive must isolate for five days from the onset of symptom, or positive test if asymptomatic. After 5 days, employees may return to work if their symptoms are mild or improving AND they have been fever-free without the use of medication for 24 hours.
- Employees who return to work after day 5 should wear a mask through day 10, unless they have two negative tests after day 5. Tests should not be taken before Day 6, and the two negative tests should be 24 hours apart. If there is a positive test result, testing should be started again at least one day later, with masking continued until two negative test results are achieved, without a positive test in between.
- Employers must provide written notification to all employees who were at the worksite at the same time as the COVID case within 24 hours. The notification can be in the format commonly used by the employer to alert employees of immediate changes. That can be as simple as posting a notice, sending an email, or sending a text. The identity of the positive tester should not be revealed. The notice must be posted in English and additional languages spoken by members of the workforce and must also be posted with other labor posters. The notice must be available for 15 calendar days.
- Notice requirements include the date that the confirmation of a positive test was received by the employer, the area where the exposure occurred, and the contact information for the person/department in charge of providing additional information or resources to employees who may have been exposed.
- Employees who had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID should test within 3 – 5 days from exposure. Employers must make COVID testing available to employees who were exposed in the workplace at no cost and during paid time.
These practices were updated on August 29, 2023 and DO NOT apply to healthcare or Emergency Medical Services personnel in settings covers by AFL21-08.9. Skilled Nursing Facilities should follow CDC infection control recommendations.
Please note that while these are the required measures, employers have the right to be more diligent in their business practices.
If you need help determining your organizations COVID response, give us a call. 858-505-0024. SDEA is not just here for you, we are HeRe with you.