Loren Kean Law

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Changes to the CDC’s Employee Quarantine Recommendations and OSHA’s COVID-19 Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements Bruce E. Loren, Kyle W. Ohlenschlaeger and Brandon J. Camilleri | Sep 03 2020

In July, the CDC updated their quarantine recommendations for allowing employees with COVID-19 symptoms to return to work. Further, OSHA updated its reporting and recording requirements for employers who have an employee confirmed to have COVID-19.

Importance to employers:

Federal and state agencies such as OSHA, the EEOC, and U.S. Department of Labor look to the CDC’s recommendations to determine if violations of their own rules occurred. Examples include violations of OSHA’s general duty rule and reporting requirements, the EEOC’s Americans Disabilities Act, and the U.S. Department Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employers with more than 10 employees must follow OSHA’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Administrative offices and certain retail, finance, insurance and real estate businesses are exempt which is determined by the businesses’ specific NAICS code.

CDC changes to quarantine recommendations:

The CDC changed its recommended length of time for employees to quarantine after testing positive or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 as follows:

  • When an employee tests positive but never develops symptoms, the CDC recommends that they return to work after 10 days;
  • When an employee is told to self-care at home by a doctor, the CDC recommends that the employee return 10 days after exhibiting symptoms if 24 hours have passed after resolution of fever without medication and other symptoms have improved;
  • For employees who were exposed to the virus, never tested, and never experienced symptoms, the CDC has kept its recommended 14 day quarantine period; and
  • For employees with severe illnesses or severe cases of COVID-19, the CDC has increased its recommended quarantine period to 20 days.

OSHA changes to recordkeeping and reporting requirements:

OSHA recently removed guidance as to when COVID-19 is considered work-related and when fatalities and hospitalizations need to be reported. As such, recordkeeping and reporting requirements have become more confusing. Our recommendation is that employers record COVID-19 cases if, based upon available information, it appears more likely than not that the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace.

OSHA clarified that employers must record work-related COVID-19 cases in their OSHA 300 form. The OSHA 300 form is a log of serious injuries and illnesses that employers must keep unless the business is exempt from recordkeeping requirements as provided above. OSHA also clarified that employers must report COVID-19 cases when an employee has been hospitalized with COVID-19 within 24 hours of leaving work or if an employee dies from COVID-19 within 30 days of leaving work.

Practical advice to employers:

Update employee handbooks or policies to include the new recommendations by the CDC. This will allow your business to bring employees back sooner and return to normal. Consider hiring an attorney to draft a written policy if your business does not have one. Make sure to apply your written policies equally so that you cannot be accused of discrimination.

Discuss options with employees who refuse to return to work. Allow teleworking if it will not affect your bottom line. However, if necessary and the employee meets the CDC’s recommendations above, employers can demand that the employee return to work unless a doctor’s note is provided.

Bruce E. Loren, Kyle W. Ohlenschlaeger and Brandon J. Camilleri of the Loren & Kean Law Firm are based in Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Lauderdale. Loren & Kean Law is a boutique law firm concentrating in construction law, complex commercial litigation, and employment law. Mr. Loren has been certified in construction law by the Florida Bar since 2004, exemplifying the Bar’s recognition of his expertise. Mr. Loren, Mr. Ohlenschlaeger and Mr. Camilleri can be reached at: bloren@lorenkeanlaw.com, and