Last week, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued Interim Guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (official name “COVID-19”). The Interim Guidance is designed to help prevent workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses, including nCoV (i.e. a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified), while also providing planning considerations if there are more widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States. The Interim Guidance warns employers not to make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and to be sure to maintain confidentiality of employees with confirmed coronavirus infections. Employers are further instructed to:
- ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of such policies;
- not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way; and
- maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member.
The full CDC Interim Guidance is available here