Overview: The workplace is no place for an infectious disease. Whether it is a infectious pandemic (e.g., coronavirus), the flu that comes around every year or the common cold, employers should do whatever it takes to curb the spread of contagious germs among the workforce.
The first line of defense against infectious diseases is to offer wellness programs and vaccines (e.g., flu shot), and encourage proper employee hygiene (especially hand washing).
The fact is, though, employees will get sick. Be ready to address how to handle alternative working arrangements, e.g., allow telecommuting if feasible or offer sick days.
Trends: Be aware of infectious diseases that arise overseas, such as the coronavirus, especially when employees travel to and from an affected region for business or personal reasons. Even if employees do not travel, there is the risk of coming into contact with an individual who has returned to the US from an affected area.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include information on the San Mateo County temporary paid sick leave ordinance.
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Updated to include the San Francisco, California, Back to Work Emergency Ordinance, effective July 3, 2020.
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HR guidance on preventing infectious diseases in the workplace.