- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of signs of a fever and any other symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 24 hours.
- Separate sick employees. Employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
- Emphasize hand hygiene. Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%-95% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning. Employers should routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs.
Can employers require employees to undergo medical examinations? As stated in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” employers may not require medical examinations under the ADA unless the medical exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Whether a medical exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity depends upon the facts presented (e.g., what are the employee’s symptoms, where has the employee been, etc.) and the latest CDC guidance on coronavirus.
Actions employers can take during a pandemic: In the case of a pandemic, employers have the right to send employees home if they show coronavirus-like symptoms at work. Also, employers may enquire if employees are experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms as long as they are mindful of confidentiality obligations. Finally, if an employee returns from traveling during a pandemic, an employer may ask the employee whether they are returning from a location where that individual may have been exposed to the virus.
- Download the "Planning for a Pandemic" PDF
- How to Respond to COVID-19 Exposure
- OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
- Key OSHA standards related to COVID-19
- Checklist: Responding to a COVID-19 Exposure at your Business
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- OSHA COVID-19 Safety Resources
- The Employers’ Guide to COVID-19
- Cleaning for Health in a Business
- U.S. Department of Labor Coronavirus Resources
In addition to following the CDC’s interim guidance, employers should consider the following best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Educate employees on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and the precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk of contracting the virus, without causing panic.
- Appoint a single individual or department as the point of contact within your organization for employee questions about COVID-19.
- Review safety programs and emergency action plans to ensure that they include infectious-disease protocols.
- Implement travel guidelines and procedures for approving travel to and from China.
Employers should closely monitor the CDC and WHO websites for the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19.
View Resources for Tennessee Businesses
Back to the UT CIS Coronavirus Resource Dashboard