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What to do if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

What to do if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they’ll be given some next steps to take in order to properly keep their friends, family, and recent contacts safe and healthy. But as an employer, it’s important to know what to do if an employee tests positive so you can protect your team, your business, and yourself. 


Please note that these tips come from the guidance of the CDC. You can find a full outline of guidelines recommended from the CDC here. We recommend you keep this guide handy and are meeting these guidelines. This post is intended to give you a general overview of what to do if an employee tests positive. 


What you should do:


  • Send the infected employee home and give them up to 80 hours of sick pay (depending on their employment status and number of sick hours allotted).

  • Notify other employees who have had direct and/or continuous contact with the infected employee. However, ensure you’re protecting the infected employee’s identity and privacy, and avoid using their name. 

  • Determine whether or not the employees with direct and continuous contact can work from home for the next 14 days, being mindful of their symptoms and being in regular communication with them. 

    • If not, implement social distancing, create barriers, and isolate employees who have had contact. Keep your environment and your other employees safe. 

  • If you have several positives, review your process. You may need to consider a full decontamination, clean the building, take some extra social distancing or isolation steps, or move to remote working for a few weeks. 

  • Continue to follow social distancing guidelines to reduce spread even further. 


You should also note how you should be paying your employees during this pandemic, but we know there are many other scenarios that may be difficult to navigate. Here’s how to handle some of them: 


  • If an employee has flu-like symptoms and is asked to stay home, but later tests negative for COVID-19, they will receive FFCRA sick pay for the days they miss.

  • If an employee is well but does not feel comfortable coming to work, you are not required to pay them. However, to avoid this, you’ll want to take measures to ensure your employees do feel safe. 

  • If your place of business is ordered to close but you have employees out on FFCRA sick leave, they become eligible for unemployment. 

  • If an employer is temporarily closing due to lack of business, employees are eligible for unemployment. 

  • If an employee already used 80 hours of sick pay due to COVID-19 symptoms in April but later tests positive, they are eligible for PTO or unpaid time off. 


For more information on the CDC’s guidelines and more answers to common questions, watch this video or reach out to us directly with questions. We’re here to help you stay on top of HR concerns so you can keep your business and your employees safe.  

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