The COVID-19 rules have changed; should your policy?


CDC updates guidance

March 1 not only turned the page to a new month, but it also turned the page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changing its guidance on how people can protect themselves and others from respiratory viruses – including COVID-19.

Now, instead of isolating for five days, those who have symptoms (fever, chills, fatigue, cough, runny nose, and headache, etc.) should stay home and away from others. They may, however, go back to their normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, both are true:

  • Their symptoms are getting better overall, and
  • They have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).

This is true even if individuals test positive.

When individuals go back to their normal activities, the CDC says they should take added precautions over the next five days, such as taking additional steps for cleaner air, practicing good hygiene, wearing masks, physically distancing, and/or testing when they will be around other people indoors.

Individuals may still be able to spread the virus even if they are feeling better. They are likely to be less contagious at this time, depending on factors like how long they were sick or how sick they were.

If individuals develop a fever or they start to feel worse after they have gone back to normal activities, they should stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, both factors listed above are true.

Workplace policies

Over the last few years, many employers enacted policies that required employees to follow CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. With the change in the CDC’s stance, now might be a good time to update such policies.

Not only might policies relax the five-day isolation period, but they could be expanded to include other communicable respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu.

For employees experiencing long-term effects from having COVID-19 (“Long COVID”) employers should remember their obligations to provide employee leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or workplace accommodations (including time off) under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Currently, COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates are decreasing after increasing at the end of last year. The effects of virus are still being felt; there were 5.4 deaths per 100K in the past three months. From February 18 to 24, 2.1 percent of all deaths in the U.S. were due to COVID-19.

Key to Remember: Now might be time to update workplace COVID-19 policies.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.


The J. J. Keller LEAVE MANAGER service is your business resource for tracking employee leave and ensuring compliance with the latest Federal and State FMLA and leave requirements.