Return to work plays a significant role in the health and recovery of an individual, reduction of disability, and improvement of productivity and security. Therefore, employers of all business sizes need to pay attention to this practice for the safety of workers.
The world has been battling against the Covid-19 pandemic for several months now, with governments around the globe imposing large-scale social distancing orders. With people having stayed at home for weeks, employers start asking: when should we allow employees to return to work? To answer that question, the CDC offers guidance on prudent timelines for different scenarios. These guidelines outline how employers can determine which staff members are ready to return to work, when, and under stan conditions.
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If an employee has a fever and a cough but then gets better without Covid-19 testing or medical care, employer can allow the employee to return to work under the following conditions:
If employees who are medically confirmed to have Covid-19 are showing symptoms, but they are not required to stay in hospital (only home/self-isolation), employers can mandate them to return to work under the following conditions:
Employees who have a laboratory-confirmed case of Covid-19 but are not showing any symptoms, CDC recommends that they might return to work in the following conditions:
If employees have become ill, tested positive for Covid-19, and required hospitalisation, they might have a higher risk of shedding and spreading the infection. Thus, CDC recommends rigorous testing, a test-based strategy before returning high-risk and hospitalised employees to work.
Employers should also recommend hospitalised employees to discuss returning to work with their personal healthcare provider to best assess if they pose no threat to coworkers. This might include re-testing to verify the said employees are no longer shedding the virus.
The guidelines above will prevent most but cannot prevent all instances of secondary spread. The risk of transmission after recovery is likely substantially less than that during illness; recovered persons will not be shedding large amounts of the virus by this point if they are shedding at all, CDC noted.
When returning employees to the workplace, safe work practices should be observed. Employers must consider taking employees’ temperature before they enter a building, but remember that not all Covid-19 patients experience a fever. Employers should also encourage physical distancing as much as possible, maintaining clean surfaces, and wearing masks or other personal protective equipment if dealing with the public. Sending workers home if they become ill during the workday should also be required.
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