Suspect or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in the Workplace

An employer has limited operations due to COVID-19.  As a result, some employees are placed into new roles for the duration of the pandemic.  What classifications should be assigned to these employees?


Per NCCI: "As stated in Basic Manual Rule 1-A, subject to certain exceptions, it is the business of the employer within a state that is classified, not separate employments, occupations, or operations within the business. Therefore, the classification of the employees working in new roles might not change. However, there may be situations where a change in classification could occur, such as when:

  • The employer’s operations have changed to a different classification, or
  • An employee’s occupation for the employer has changed (similar to when an employee receives a job promotion) to a different classification that may be applied to the employer’s policy (e.g., an employee changes to a clerical position and Code 8810—Clerical Office Employees NOC may be applied to the policy).
In accordance with Basic Manual Rules 1-D-3 and 2-G, the employer would be responsible for maintaining separate payroll records for the change in operations or the wages earned for an employee whose occupation has changed. If these records are not maintained, then all payroll would be assigned to the highest rated applicable class code. See footnote. 1 1An example could be a retail store that remains open for delivery of goods but closes the showroom to consumers. Several of the retail showroom employees will work from home to assist with phone orders, customer service calls, and related clerical paperwork. These employees may be reassigned to Code 8871—Clerical Telecommuter Employees. In addition, this same employer has other showroom employees delivering goods to customers. These employees would be reassigned to Code 7380— Drivers, Chauffeurs, Messengers, and Their Helpers NOC—Commercial while they are in their new role as delivery drivers. In both situations, the employees’ original job descriptions were included in the applicable store code, but their new job descriptions place them in a new code. Once the employees return to their former roles after the pandemic has passed, their payroll would return to the store code that was assigned before the employer closed the showroom. In accordance with Basic Manual Rules 1-D-3 and 2-G, the employer would be responsible for maintaining properly segregated payroll records for the wages earned while the employees were in their new job descriptions. If these records are not maintained, then all payroll would be assigned to the highest rated applicable classification."




Does the Family First Coronovirus Response Act address workers compensation, including the treatment of payroll?  Will payments by employers for qualified paid sick leave and qualified family and medical leave expansion under the Act be used in the calculation of workers compensation premium?


Per NCCI: None of the provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act) expressly apply to workers compensation. The Act does not define payroll, and the treatment of payroll for purposes of workers compensation is not specifically addressed in the Act. As discussed more fully below, NCCI is proposing to exclude qualified sick leave and/or family and medical leave payments under the Act from the calculation of premium. In March 2020, Congress passed the Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, the Act expands food assistance, addresses unemployment benefits, and provides emergency paid sick leave, emergency expanded family and medical leave, and tax credits. In general, the section in the Act on Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion (EFMLA) modifies and expands coverage under the existing Family and Medical Leave Act by requiring employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave to eligible employees for a qualifying need related to a public health emergency. “Qualifying need related to a public health emergency” means an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency. “Public health emergency” means an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority. In general, the section in the Act on Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSLA) provides that an eligible employer will provide an employee with paid sick time if the employee is unable to work or telework for reasons stated in the Act such as: The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order or has been advised to self-quarantine as described above The Act also allows a tax credit (payroll credit) against the taxes imposed for Social Security and railroad retirement benefits for each calendar quarter in an amount equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid by an employer pursuant to the Act, and the amount of the tax imposed for hospital insurance taxes or Medicare. NCCI recognizes that circumstances around COVID-19 are extraordinary and that existing NCCI manual rules on payroll inclusion/exclusion do not directly contemplate pandemic-related situations. As such, Item Filing B-1441 addresses the treatment of payroll as the basis of premium for any qualified sick leave and/or family and medical leave wages paid by eligible employers as defined and/or provided under the Act. If approved, this rule change will be added to Rule 2-F, Wages for Time Not Worked, in NCCI’s Basic Manual, and a corresponding statistical code 0012 is being created for reporting this payroll. These qualified sick leave and/or family and medical leave payments will not be used in the calculation of premium. Please review the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Please review the US Department of Labor (DOL) Guidance related to the Act, in the form of FAQs.




What should I do if an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms?


Per the CDC: Employees who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. Emmployees who develop symptoms outside of work should notifiy their supervisor and stay home.




What should I do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19?


Per the CDC: In most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. But do close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person:

  • Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations:
  • Clean dirty surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting them.
  • To disinfect surfaces, use products that meet EPA criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2external icon, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions on the product labels to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
  • You may need to wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) depending on the setting and disinfectant product you are using.
In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, employers should determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and need to take additional precautions:
  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 (using a viral test, not an antibody test) should be excluded from work and remain in home isolation if they do not need to be hospitalized. Employers should provide education to employees on what to do if they are sick.
  • Employers may need to work with local health department officials to determine which employees may have had close contact with the employee with COVID-19 and who may need to take additional precautions, including exclusion from work and remaining at home.
  • Most workplaces should follow the Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure and instruct potentially exposed employees to stay home for 14 days, telework if possible, and self-monitor for symptoms.
  • Critical infrastructure workplaces should follow the guidance Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Employees Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.
Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider. Antibody test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.




Can I require employees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the workspace?


Yes. CDC recommendations are that employees should “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.”




Can I take employees’ temperatures when they come to work to make sure they don’t have a fever?


Yes. The CDC and state/local health authorities allow employers to take employees’ body temperatures. See EEOC: Employers Now May Take Employees’ Temperatures




Can I instruct an employee to leave work (or stay home) if they are sick?


Yes. If a worker is showing signs of respiratory illness (i.e., cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day, they should be separated from other employees and go home immediately.




Can we ask an employee to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to work, especially when they are showing symptoms?


Yes. An employer can request the worker have a COVID-19 test before allowing the employee to return to work. Not everyone will have immediate access to testing. The CDC has guidelines on allowing employees to return to work without requiring a test.




How long should employees with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test stay at home before returning to work?


According to the CDC, “employees with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were told to stay home may return to work under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days* have passed since symptom onset, and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever- reducing medications, and
  • Other symptoms have improved.

*A limited number of people with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may warrant extending duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset.”




If an employee had a positive COVID-19 test, does the employer have the right to require a doctor’s note or other evidence of that diagnosis?


Yes, but if the employee can’t produce written evidence, the CDC recommends that employers, “not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.”

OSHA’s COVID-19 guidance recommends that “employers maintain flexibility by not requiring a health care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work.”

Ask your employee to check with their doctor or local clinic to provide an email or form to certify that your worker is COVID free.




What should we do if a worker says that they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19?


The CDC states that essential employees who had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 can continue to work as long as the employee doesn’t show symptoms, and protective measures are used. This includes screening the employee each workday for fever and other symptoms, having them wear a mask, and regularly disinfecting work areas. “Close contact” includes, but is not limited to, living in the same home as an infected person, being in a relationship with a person who is infected, or sitting within 6 feet of an infected person.




If an employee gets COVID-19, are quarantined, or need care for a family member, are they covered under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) if it applies to my company (50 or more employees)?


Yes, coronavirus would qualify as a “serious health condition” under FMLA. The employee would be entitled to job reinstatement as well.




If FMLA doesn’t apply because I have fewer than 50 employees, do I need to pay workers who go on leave?


Only in some cases. If you offered a sick/paid leave before COVID-19, those policies still apply except for certain exemptions (See US Department of Labor exemptions below).

If you don’t have a sick/paid leave policy, hourly workers are not guaranteed wages or hours, so they don’t get paid. If your exempt employees work part of the week, they must be paid for the entire week. But if they are out of work for the entire week, they don’t get paid.

According to the US Department of Labor,

“A small business is exempt from certain paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements if providing an employee such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. This means a small business is exempt from mandated paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave requirements only if the:

1. Employer employs fewer than 50 employees;

2. The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;

3. The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities;

4. There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.

5. Leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.”





Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 in Workplaces

How do I keep employees who interact with customers safe?


Per the CDC: To keep your employees safe, you should: Consider options to increase physical space between employees and customers such as opening a drive- through, erecting partitions, and marking floors to guide spacing at least 6 feet apart. At least once a day, clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people. This includes door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets. Consider assigning a person to rotate throughout the workplace to clean and disinfect surfaces. Consider scheduling handwashing breaks so employees can wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Consider scheduling a relief person to give cashiers and service desk employees an opportunity to wash their hands.




What can be done to protect employees who cannot maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from other employees or customers?


Per the CDC: Evaluate your workplace to identify situations where employees cannot maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other and/or customers. Use appropriate combinations of controls following the hierarchy of controls to addresses these situations to limit the spread of COVID-19. A committee of both employees and management may be the most effective way to recognize all of these scenarios. It is important to note that control recommendations or interventions assigned to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 must be compatible with any safety programs and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required for the job task. Approaches to consider may include the following: Alter the workspace using engineering controls to prevent exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Set up, where possible, physical barriers between employees, and between employees and customers.
  • Use strip curtains, plastic barriers, or similar materials to create impermeable dividers or partitions.
  • Make sure the workspace is well-ventilatedexternal icon.
  • Change the alignment of workstations where feasible. For example, redesign workstations so employees are not facing each other.
  • Consider making foot traffic one-way in narrow or confined areas, such as aisles and stairwells, to encourage single-file movement at a 6-foot distance.
  • Move electronic payment terminals/credit card readers farther away from the cashier to increase the distance between the customer and the cashier.
  • Use visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, and signs to remind employees to maintain distance of 6 feet from others, including at their workstation and in break areas.
  • Consider these cues for customers as well, such as at the entrance or checkout line.
  • Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol throughout the workplace for employees and customers.
  • Use touch-free stations where possible.
  • Make sure restrooms are well-stocked with soap and paper towels.
Provide training and other administrative policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • All employees should have a basic understanding of COVID-19, how the disease spreads, symptoms, and ways to prevent or minimize the spread.
  • Trainings should cover the importance of social distancing (maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet), wearing cloth face coverings appropriately, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, not sharing personal items or tools/equipment unless absolutely necessary, and not touching the face, mouth, or eyes.
  • Employees should be encouraged to go home or stay home if they feel sick. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with local public healthexternal icon guidance, and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
Use cloth face coverings as appropriate.
  • Recommend employees wear a cloth face covering.
  • Cloth face coverings are intended to protect other people—not the wearer. They are not considered PPE.
  • Train employees how to put on and take off cloth face coverings to avoid contamination.
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed and dried after each use.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be worn if their use creates a new risk (e.g., interferes with driving or vision, contributes to heat-related illness) that exceeds their benefit of slowing the spread of the virus.
  • Recommend that visitors to the workplace (service personnel, customers) also wear cloth face coverings.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) PPE is the last step in the hierarchy of controls because it is harder to use effectively than other measures. To be protective and not introduce an additional hazard, the use of PPE requires characterization of the environment, knowledge of the hazard, training, and consistent correct use. This is why administrative and engineering controls are emphasized in guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the current pandemic, use of PPE such as surgical masks or N-95 respirators is being prioritized for healthcare employees and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance unless they were required for the job before the pandemic.




How can I help protect employees who may be at higher risk for severe illness?


Per the CDC: Have conversations with employees if they express concerns. Some people may be at higher risk of severe illness. This includes older adults (65 years and older) and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions. By using strategies that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, you will help protect all employees, including those at higher risk. These strategies include:

  • Implementing telework and other social distancing practices
  • Actively encouraging employees to stay home when sick
  • Providing sick leave
  • Promoting handwashing
  • Providing supplies and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces
  • Requiring all employees to wear cloth face coverings
In workplaces where it is not possible to eliminate face-to-face contact (such as retail), consider assigning employees who are at higher risk of severe illness work tasks that allow them to maintain a 6-foot distance from others, if feasible. Employers should not require employees to provide a note from their healthcare provider when they are sick and instead allow them to inform their supervisors or employee health services when they have conditions that put them at higher risk for diseases.




When is a cloth face covering not appropriate while at work, and what can employees wear instead?


Per the CDC: Cloth face coverings can prevent the wearer from spreading COVID-19 to others, but they may not always be appropriate. Employees should consider using an alternative under certain conditions at work, including:

  • If they have trouble breathing.
  • If they are unable to remove it without help.
  • If it interferes with vision, glasses, or eye protection.
  • If straps, strings, or other parts of the covering could get caught in equipment.
  • If other work hazards associated with wearing the covering are identified and cannot be addressed without removal of the face covering.
Cloth face coverings should not be worn if their use creates a new risk (e.g., interferes with driving or vision, contributes to heat-related illness) that exceeds their benefit of slowing the spread of the virus. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)pdf iconexternal icon suggests that an employee wear a face shield if a cloth face covering is recommended but the employee cannot tolerate wearing a cloth face covering. If used, a face shield should cover the entire front and sides of the face and extend below the chin.




Are cloth face coverings the same as personal protective equipment (PPE)?


Per the CDC: No, cloth face coverings are not PPE. These face coverings are not respirators and are not appropriate substitutes for them in workplaces where respirators are recommended or required for respiratory protection.




How should cloth face coverings worn at work be handled, stored, and washed?


Per the CDC: When wearing a cloth face covering, it should fit over the nose and mouth, fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, and be secured with ties or ear loops. The cloth face covering should allow the wearer to breathe without restriction. Employees should avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth as well as the inside or outside of the face covering while putting on, wearing, and removing it. When putting on and removing it, they should only touch the ties or ear loops. If storing the cloth face covering while at work, employees should place the used cloth face covering into a container or paper bag labeled with the employee’s name. Cloth face coverings should not be shared with others unless they are washed and dried first. If the cloth face covering becomes wet, visibly soiled, or contaminated at work, it should be removed and stored to be laundered later. The employee should put on a clean cloth face covering or disposable face mask. If cloth face coverings are provided by the employer, a clean face covering should be issued to replace the soiled one. Employees should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings. If soap and water are not available, they should use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Laundry instructions depend on the cloth used to make the face covering. In general, cloth face coverings should be washed regularly (e.g., daily after each shift) using water and a mild detergent and dried completely in a hot dryer. If a washing machine and dryer are not available, an alternative is to soak the cloth face covering in a diluted bleach (0.1%) solution, rinse, and air dry completely. Hands should be washed before laundering the cloth face coverings.




How often should my employees wash their hands while at work?


Per the CDC: CDC recommends employees protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions, including good hand hygiene. Employees should wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available, especially during key times when persons are likely to be infected by or spread germs:

  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • After using the toilet
  • After touching garbage
  • Before and after the work shift
  • Before and after work breaks
  • After touching objects that have been handled by customers or other employees




What can I tell my employees about reducing the spread of COVID-19 at work?


Per the CDC: Employees should take the following steps to protect themselves at work:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing noses, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.

  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Follow the policies and procedures of the employer related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, and work meetings and travel.
  • Stay home if sick, except to get medical care.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet away from fellow co-employees, customers, and visitors when possible.
  • Wear cloth face coverings, especially when social distancing is not possible.
  • Employees should inform their supervisor if they or their colleagues develop symptoms at work. No one with COVID-19 symptoms should be present at the workplace.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, etc.
  • Where possible, avoid direct physical contact such as shaking hands with people.
  • Minimize handling cash, credit cards, and mobile or electronic devices when possible.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel.




Should we be screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms (such as temperature checks)?  What is the best way to do that?


Screening employees is an optional strategy that employers may use. Performing screening or health checks will not be completely effective because asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild non-specific symptoms may not realize they are infected and may pass through screening. Screening and health checks are not a replacement for other protective measures such as social distancing. Consider encouraging individuals planning to enter the workplace to self-screen prior to coming onsite and not to attempt to enter the workplace if any of the following are present:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • Fever equal to or higher than 100.4oF*
  • Are under evaluation for COVID-19 (for example, waiting for the results of a viral test to confirm infection)
  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and not yet cleared to discontinue isolation
*A lower temperature threshold (e.g., 100.0oF) may be used, especially in healthcare settings. Content of screening questions If you decide to actively screen employees for symptoms rather than relying on self-screening, consider which symptoms to include in your assessment. Although there are many different symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19, you may not want to treat every employee with a single non-specific symptom (e.g., a headache) as a suspect case of COVID-19 and send them home until they meet criteria for discontinuation of isolation. Consider focusing the screening questions on “new” or “unexpected” symptoms (e.g., a chronic cough would not be a positive screen). Consider including these symptoms:
  • Fever or feeling feverish (chills, sweating)
  • New cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell
Protection of screeners There are several methods that employers can use to protect the employee conducting the screening. The most protective methods incorporate social distancing (maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others), or physical barriers to eliminate or minimize the screener’s exposures due to close contact with a person who has symptoms during screening. Examples to consider that incorporate these types of controls for temperature screening include:
  • Reliance on Social Distancing: Ask employees to take their own temperature either before coming to the workplace or upon arrival at the workplace. Upon their arrival, stand at least 6 feet away from the employee and:
  • Ask the employee to confirm that their temperature is less than 100.4o F (38.0o C) and confirm that they are not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
  • Screening staff do not need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if they can maintain a distance of 6 feet.
  • Reliance on Barrier/Partition Controls: During screening, the screener stands behind a physical barrier, such as a glass or plastic window or partition, that can protect the screener’s face and mucous membranes from respiratory droplets that may be produced when the employee sneezes, coughs, or talks. Upon arrival, the screener should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Then:
  • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
  • Conduct temperature and symptom screening using this protocol:
    • Put on disposable gloves.
    • Check the employee’s temperature, reaching around the partition or through the window. Make sure the screener’s face stays behind the barrier at all times during the screening.
    • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, make sure that you use a clean pair of gloves for each employee and that the thermometer has been thoroughly cleaned in between each check. If disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and you did not have physical contact with an individual, you do not need to change gloves before the next check. If non-contact thermometers are used, clean and disinfect them according to manufacturer’s instructions and facility policies.
  • Remove and discard PPE (gloves), and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
If social distance or barrier controls cannot be implemented during screening, PPE can be used when the screener is within 6 feet of an employee during screening. However, reliance on PPE alone is a less effective control and more difficult to implement given PPE shortages and training requirements.
  • Reliance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Upon arrival, the screener should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, put on a face mask, eye protection (goggles or disposable face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face), and a single pair of disposable gloves. A gown could be considered if extensive contact with an employee is anticipated. Then:

  • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue, and confirm that the employee is not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Take the employee’s temperature.
    • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, make sure that you use a clean pair of gloves for each employee and that the thermometer has been thoroughly cleaned in between each check. If disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and you did not have physical contact with an individual, you do not need to change gloves before the next check. If non-contact thermometers are used, you should clean and disinfect them according to manufacturer’s instructions and facility policies.
  • After each screening or after several screenings, where you did not have physical contact with an individual, remove and discard PPE and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.




How do I handle personal protective equipment (PPE) waste?


Per the CDC: Discard PPE into a trash can. Facility waste does not need disinfection.





Healthy Business Operations

What is social distancing and how can my workplace do that?


Per the CDC: Social distancing means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (at least 6 feet) from others when possible. Strategies that businesses could use include:

  • Allowing flexible worksites (such as telework)
  • Allowing flexible work hours (such as staggered shifts)
  • Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
  • Increasing physical space between employees and customers (such as a drive-through and partitions)
  • Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (such as postponing non-essential meetings or events)
  • Delivering services remotely (e.g., phone, video, or web)
  • Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery




I don't provide paid sick leave to my employees.  What should I do?


Per the CDC: Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees may want to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies. The Families First Coronavirus Response Actexternal icon (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for 100% tax credits for Families First Coronavirus ​Response Act COVID-19 paid leave provided through December 31, 2020, up to certain limits.




Should I require sick employees to provide a doctor's note or positive COVID-19 test result?


Per the CDC: Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.




Should I cancel my meetings and conferences?


Per the CDC: Carefully consider whether travel is necessary and use videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings. Employers should consider canceling, adjusting, or postponing large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person. Follow CDC guidance for events and mass gatherings and consider resuming non-essential travel in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance. When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces, and space chairs at least 6 feet apart. Encourage staff and attendees to stay home if sick.




What measures shold be taken to protect an employee who must travel for work?


Per the CDC: Although travel should be minimized as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, many jobs require travel, and it may not be possible to conduct certain job duties using virtual tools. The following measures may be taken to protect employees while traveling:

  • Schedule travel to limit the distance travelled and need for overnight lodging.
  • If multi-day travel is necessary, coordinate with travel preparers to identify hotels that disinfect rooms between stays and regularly disinfect surfaces in common areas.
  • Provide employees with forms of transportation that minimize close contact with others such as fleet vehicles or rental vehicles.
  • If public transportation is used, ask employees to follow the CDC guidance on how to protect yourself when using transportation.
  • If flying is necessary, select seats on flights that provide the greatest distance between other travelers and choose direct flights, if possible.
  • Disinfect surfaces of rental cars or fleet vehicles (e.g., steering wheel, shifter, arm rests, etc.) between each use, using products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2external icon.
  • Make sure employees are provided with the necessary supplies and understand protective measures they can take while traveling. These measures include:
    • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people (social distancing) as much as possible during travel.
    • Wear cloth face coverings when a distance of 6 feet is difficult to maintain, such as in airports, airplanes, and public transportation.
    • Use disinfecting wipes to clean commonly touched surfaces inside vehicles and airplanes.
    • Consider ordering food for pickup or delivery rather than eating out at restaurants.
    • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer regularly.
  • Ensure that employees know that if they get sick they should stay home (not travel) or return home (if traveling) provided it is feasible for them to travel without endangering themselves or others.
  • Make sure employees know who to contact if they are sick.
For more information, see CDC guidance for travel in the United States






Cleaning and Disinfection in the Workplace


Workers' Compensation Questions and Issues

Is Covid-19 compensable under state workers compensation acts?


Per NCCI: "The answer to that question is “maybe.” While workers compensation laws provide compensation for “occupational diseases” that arise out of and in the course of employment, many state statutes exclude “ordinary diseases of life” (e.g., the common cold or flu). There are occupational groups that arguably would have a higher probability for exposure such as healthcare workers. However, even in those cases, there may be uncertainty as to whether the disease is compensable."




A business has suspended operations due to COVID-19, but continues to pay employees, although they are at home and not working.  Is this payroll included in the premium calculations for workers compensation?


Per NCCI: "NCCI recognizes that the circumstances around COVID-19 were extraordinary and, as a result, submitted an expedited rule change (Item Filing B-1441) to address the question of payroll for employees who are being paid but are not working as it relates to the basis of premium. Upon approval, this rule change will be distinct from “idle time” under our current Basic Manual rules (Rule 2-F-1), and a corresponding code 0012 will be created for reporting these payments. These payments will not be used in the calculation of premium."




Does Basic Manual Rule 1-F Changes or Corrections in Classifications, provide guidance for employers impacted by COVID-19?


Per NCCI: "NCCI’s Basic Manual Rule 1-F-1 addresses changes or corrections in classifications due to changes in an employer’s operations. The temporary interruption or suspension of normal business activities caused by COVID-19 may qualify as a change in operations. For example, if an employer continues to pay its employees while they are working out of their homes (telecommuting) rather than an office, carriers may consider a change from the employer’s governing classification to Code 8810—Clerical Office Employees NOC or Code 8871—Clerical Telecommuter Employees, or other appropriate classifications based on the duties of the employees while normal business operations are interrupted or suspended. Once normal business operations resume, appropriate classifications should be applied." Find the specific description of Code 8871 using NCCI’s Class Look Up tool. To access it, you need a user ID and password (at no charge). If you don’t have these, please contact our Customer Service Center at 800-622-4123 and select the Products and Services option.




If an employer is unable to comply with completing an audit because of the Covid-19 situation, is the employer considered to be noncompliant ans subject to the Audit Noncompliance Charge (ANC) as provided in Basic Manual 3-A-13-b?


Per NCCI: A carrier’s application of the ANC is not mandatory. Therefore, a carrier could opt not to apply the ANC to an employer’s policy in this situation.




What are possible impacts on loss costs and rates?


Per NCCI: NCCI published a white paper, “COVID-19 and Workers Compensation: Modeling Potential Impacts,” which provides estimates of workers compensation system cost impacts under various hypothetical scenarios. NCCI also released an interactive tool that allows users to choose their own assumptions and model the potential impact to expected losses for the associated jurisdiction and workforce under the scenario framework described in the research brief. NCCI will continue to evaluate the impact COVID-19 may have on future workers compensation system costs but does not anticipate revising previously approved loss cost/rate filings. There is currently a substantial amount of uncertainty associated with determining the ultimate impact that COVID-19 claims may have on WC system costs. It is possible that COVID-19 may result in significant adverse loss development and deteriorating loss ratios—which may translate into a considerable increase in overall costs during 2020. However, in jurisdictions that experience more favorable results, the impact of the virus on overall system costs could be small. Determining loss costs requires estimating losses that will exist in future periods. At present, this remains difficult, as the estimates heavily depend on a number of key assumptions and factors related to the pandemic that are currently challenging to evaluate, including its infection rate, overall duration, consideration of potential for future waves of the illness, and the evolving compensability actions across individual jurisdictions. In addition, the overall impact that COVID-19 may have on trends (and loss costs) is indeterminate, and it may be reasonable to believe COVID-19 will give rise to component changes that may, to some extent, have offsetting impacts on system costs. For example: There could be an increase in the number of compensable workers compensation claims arising in frontline, COVID-19-related occupations. There could also be a decrease in workers compensation claims due to the increased number of employees who are teleworking. Short- and long-term COVID-19-related impacts may also differ. For example: In the short term, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be a reduction in the number of physical therapy sessions attended by injured employees and/or a deferral in the number of workers compensation-related surgeries that are not deemed to be immediately critical. Over the longer term, an increase in these types of services may be expected as the current burden on medical-related personnel and facilities is lessened. Lastly, in economic downturns, workers may forego filing claims for relatively minor injuries to maintain active employment as the economy navigates these uncertain times, leading to temporary downward pressure on claim frequency.




Will claims related to COVID-19 be excluded from experience rating?


Per NCCI: NCCI filed a rule change (Item Filing E-1407) to exclude claims identified with Catastrophe Number 12 for consideration by state insurance regulators. Upon approval, claims attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and reported to Catastrophe Number 12 will be excluded from experience rating calculations and merit rating plans (where applicable). Catastrophe Number 12 applies to claims with accident dates of December 1, 2019, and subsequent. At this time, no ending claim accident date has been established. Once established, claims occurring after the ending claim accident date must not be reported with Catastrophe Number 12. Such claims will be included in experience rating calculations and merit rating plans. Pandemics have been rare and are generally considered catastrophes because of their scope and severity. The presence or absence of a pandemic in a recent historical period is not believed to be a reliable good predictor of whether one will return in a given future year, after the current one runs its course. Pandemics share this aspect with other catastrophic perils in the workers compensation line, such as terrorism and earthquakes, and each peril presents a unique catastrophic exposure. Those other catastrophes have a non-ratable provision outside of the manual loss costs and rates that represent the long-term average expected cost, and the claims arising from those events are excluded from experience rating.




Are employer payments to paid furloughed employees as defined in Item Filing B-1441, excluded from premium and experience rating calculations?


Per NCCI: Yes. Provided the employer keeps separate, accurate, and verifiable records, employer payments to paid furloughed employees are excluded from premium and experience rating calculations and reported to Code 0012—Paid Furloughed Employees, regardless of how the employer characterizes such payments and subject to funding authorizations, as applicable. For example, this includes payments to paid furloughed employees that an employer may characterize as sick pay, vacation pay, or some other terminology. If funds received through governmental assistance programs or governmental loans are used by an employer, as authorized by law, regulation, or governmental entity to make payments to paid furloughed employees, such payments would likewise be reported to Code 0012 and excluded from premium and experience rating calculations.





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