As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread illness across the state of California, all employees are rightfully concerned about their safety at work. Understanding your rights and personal responsibilities as an employee so that you can protect yourself and your coworkers is crucial. Here’s what you must know about COVID-19 test reporting at work.
Do You Need to Report a Positive COVID-19 Test at Work?
If you test positive for COVID-19, the first thing you should do is notify your employer as soon as possible. You are not required to give your employer your medical information, but you should let them know that you have newly tested positive so that they can take appropriate action. Your employer may have a rule that requires you to provide a doctor’s note or other documentation for medical leave, so be sure to ask about their specific policies.
Your employer is required to maintain the confidentiality of your medical information, but they may need to share some limited information with other employees who may have been exposed to the virus. Your employer should also take steps to clean and disinfect any areas of the workplace that you may have come into contact with.
If you have any questions about COVID-19 test reporting at work, be sure to speak with your human resources department or supervisor. They should be able to provide you with more information about your specific workplace policies designed to keep everyone safe and healthy. If you feel like your employer is not taking adequate steps to protect you from COVID-19, you can file a formal complaint with the office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or contact an employment attorney for guidance.
Symptoms of COVID-19: When to Take the Test
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, it is important to seek medical attention and get tested as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to preventing serious illness or death.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Runny nose or congestion
Loss of smell
Loss of taste
If you are experiencing any number of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Do not go to work if you are sick.
How to Get Tested for COVID-19
There are many different ways to get tested for COVID-19. The most common forms include:
Swab tests, which are used to collect a sample from your nose or throat
Blood tests, which check for antibodies in your blood
PCR tests, which look for the presence of the virus in your body
These tests can be found at many different locations, including:
Your doctor’s office or clinic
A local hospital or urgent care center
A community health center
A state-run testing site
Many employers are also offering on-site COVID-19 testing for their employees. If you are interested in getting tested, be sure to ask your employer about their policies and procedures that might be more convenient for you.
Wash hands frequently and for a minimum of 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to soap and water.
Avoid unnecessary close contact with people who are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a protective mask when around others.
Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
Avoid unnecessarily touching your face.
If you are sick, stay home from work and contact your healthcare provider.
These general guidelines have been designed to help you stay safe at work and protect yourself from COVID-19. However, it is always important to follow the specific policies and procedures that your employer has in place to keep everyone safe.
How Do I Know When It’s Safe to Return to Work?
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, it is important to isolate yourself at home and away from others until you have recovered. You should not return to work until:
You have spent at least 24 hours without a fever (without the use of medication).
Other symptoms have improved.
At least five complete days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should monitor yourself for symptoms. Keep in mind that symptoms will vary from person to person and that even a scratchy throat could be cause for concern if you’ve been exposed. It’s important to wear a proper mask for ten days after an exposure and test after 3-5 days of that exposure.
Remember, if you are sick after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, it is important to stay home from work and contact your healthcare provider. Though at-home tests are a great tool, false negatives are fairly common, especially in the early days of the virus. If you are sick, it’s best to get a PCR test, even if you tested negative from a rapid at-home test.
Best Practices for Employers
As an employer, it’s important to keep your employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few best practices:
Encourage everyone who works for you to stay home if they are sick.
Offer flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or staggered shifts.
Increase cleaning and disinfection efforts, especially in high-touch areas.
Encourage all employees to wash their hands often and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Provide employees with face masks and require them to wear them when around others.
These are some things employers can do to keep their employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines are constantly evolving, so be sure to stay up to date on the latest recommendations from health officials, so you know how to manage employees and their COVID-19 concerns.
Contact California Employment Counsel Today
If you have any questions about COVID-19 testing or workplace safety, including how you should navigate your workplace responsibilities after testing positive for COVID-19, contact the experienced employment law attorneys at California Employment Counsel. We are a team of passionate, skilled lawyers who are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees in California. We help you quickly understand your rights and options under the law and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you.