Return to Work Practices during the COVID-19 Outbreak

April 27, 202012:51 pm3493 views
Return to Work Practices during the COVID-19 Outbreak
Return to Work Practices during the COVID-19 Outbreak

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. 

Return to work guidelines 

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. 

See also: HR Top Priority during COVID-19

Scenario 1 

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: 

  • Three days have passed since employees’ recovery, meaning employees’ fever is resolved within a minimum of 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
  • Employees’  respiratory symptoms have improved. 
  • At least seven days have passed since employees’ first experienced symptoms. 

Scenario 2

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’ fever has been resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications for a minimum of 72 hours.  
  • Employees’ respiratory symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath, have improved.  
  • Employees have had two negative Covid-19 tests, administered by a medical professional and spaced at least 24 hours apart. 

Scenario 3 

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: 

  • After at least seven days have passed since the date of their first positive Covid-19 test. 
  • The employees had no subsequent illness. 
  • For an additional 3 days after the end isolation, the said employees should limit contact (stay 6 feet away) with others. 
  • The said employees should wear a mask or other covering of their nose and mouth to limit the potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions. 

Scenario 4 

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. 

Fine print 

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. 

Read also: Covid-19 Effects on Wellbeing, Pay & Future of Work

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