A Worker May Be Sick or Exposed to COVID-19 What are COVID-19 symptoms and what do I need to do if an employee is sick or exposed?
- What are COVID-19 symptoms and what do I need to do if an employee is sick or exposed?
- What are paid sick leave options for workers?
- What cleaning and disinfection procedures are required?
- Do I need to offer workers’ compensation benefits?
- What is an outbreak and what do I need to report?
Ensure that workers know the symptoms of COVID-19 and encourage them to stay home if they have any of the following:
Common Symptoms of COVID-19
- Fever (Temperature greater than 100.4F)
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Recent loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
Read more on California's website for COVID-19 Symptoms and Facts.
You should encourage employees to let supervisors know if they think they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case or if they have symptoms. Workers should stay home unless they need medical care. Paid sick leave may be available to them while they recover at home. Provide workers with information on how they can request and use paid sick leave or supplemental paid sick leave benefits.
If You Become Aware an Employee is Sick or has been in Close Contact
You must investigate and respond to a COVID-19 case or close contact in the workplace by doing the following:
- Determine when the COVID-19 case was last in the workplace, and if possible the date of testing and onset of symptoms.
- Determine which employees may have been in close contact to the COVID-19 case (within six feet for cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater within a 24-hour period within the high-risk exposure period).
- Notify employees within one business day (and notify any other employer who has potentially exposed employees in the workplace) of the time the employer knew of a COVID-19 case.
- Employers must offer COVID-19 testing at no cost to employees during paid time to all employees who had close contact in the workplace, except for :
- Employees who were fully vaccinated before the close contact
- COVID-19 cases who were allowed to return to work and have remained symptom free.
Testing must also be provided for employees in an exposed group:
- Unvaccinated employees in an outbreak.
- All employees in a major outbreak.
- Investigate the exposure and determine whether workplace conditions could have contributed to the risk of exposure, and what hazard corrections would reduce exposure.
- Follow all recordkeeping and reporting requirements for employee COVID-19 cases.
- Exclude from the workplace COVID-19 cases and employees who had a close contact until they are allowed to return to work, Employees who are fully vaccinated prior to the close contact and do not develop symptoms do not need to be excluded.
- Follow the requirements for preserving their pay and benefits.
- Follow the return to work criteria for returning excluded employees to work.
Recording and Reporting
Employers must record work-related COVID-19 cases in their injury and illnesses logs. You must report information about COVID-19 cases and outbreaks at the workplace to the local health department whenever required by law. You must also notify Cal/OSHA right away when there is a serious illnesses or fatality related to COVID-19. Read Cal/OSHA's FAQs on recording and reporting COVID-19 cases.
Employers must record the vaccination status for any employee not wearing a face covering indoors and this record must be kept confidential. Cal/OSHA's regulations do not specify exactly how the vaccination status must be recorded. Acceptable options include:
- Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.
- Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
- Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
Disinfection after COVID-19 Case in the Workplace
You should temporarily close the general area where the COVID-19 case worked until cleaning is completed. Conduct deep cleaning of the entire general area where the COVID-19 case worked and may have been, including breakrooms, restrooms and travel areas, with a cleaning agent approved for use by the EPA against coronavirus. It should ideally be performed by a professional cleaning service.
- Any person cleaning the area should be provided and use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 disinfection (disposable gown, gloves, eye protection, mask, or respirator if required) in addition to PPE required for cleaning products. They also need to be trained on how to properly protect themselves.
Return to Work Criteria After COVID-19 Illness or Close Contact
Employers must exclude from work COVID-19 cases, and unvaccinated employees that have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case in the workplace. A COVID-19 case or close contact may return to work when any of the following occur:
- For employees with symptoms and persons who had a close contact and developed symptoms (with some exceptions) all of these conditions must be met:
- At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
- COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and
- At least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.
- For COVID-19 cases who tested positive but never developed symptoms, at least 10 days have passed since the COVID-19 case's first positive test.
- If a licensed health care professional determines the person is not/is no longer a COVID-19 case, in accordance with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or local health department recommendations.
Employees who had a close contact and never developed symptoms may return to work when 10 days have passed since the last known close contact.
There are different return-to-work criteria during critical staffing shortages for certain workplaces such as health care, emergency response, and some social service workers.
- Cal/OSHA FAQs on emergency temporary COVID-19 prevention requirements
- Fact sheet on what employers need to know about the revised emergency temporary COVID-19 prevention requirements