February 28, 2020

Interim Guidance from the CDC for Employers re: the COVID-19 Coronavirus

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Hello all,

As you have likely heard, the US government now believes it is only a matter of time until the Coronavirus infection establishes a foothold in our country. We have a team here at CEDR watching the CDC and other sources for guidance that we think will be helpful to our members and any other healthcare employers. With that in mind, we are sharing the CDC’s interim guidance regarding COVID-19. They’ve done a remarkable job of outlining a reasonable approach to addressing issues that could occur for employers if the virus creates a true pandemic.

We do have a few reports of patients canceling appointments out of over-abundance of caution. People are talking about the potential effects of this outbreak, and that means your employees are too. While it remains to be seen to what extent COVID-19 will continue spreading, it has the potential to significantly disrupt business in the US if the outbreak becomes severe.

Of special concern to employers is the potential for increased employee absenteeism, either due to actual sickness or increased concern about becoming sick. The CDC’s guidance specifically recommends having employees stay at home if they exhibit any signs of respiratory illness, and advises businesses to forego requiring a healthcare provider’s note if the employees do wish to stay home.

One of the precautions that they are recommending is that employers make it so employees can work from home. Of course, in the vast majority of the businesses we support, that is not going to be an option. We may need our state governments to step up and make resources for missed pay available on a temporary basis. BUT TO THIS Point, we are not seeing that option. In the past, some states have offered limited unemployment claims during natural disasters such as floods and fires. We will keep an eye on those options and report what we learn.

As a healthcare employer, you and your employees are on the front lines of this developing situation. We, therefore, believe it is best to have a prepared and educated response when it comes to creating plans and setting expectations with your employees. Keeping this in mind, please read the following – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fguidance-business-response.html

If you have any questions please let us know. As stated, we are tracking the government’s response and will be happy to provide updated information as it becomes available.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.