The CDC issued new guidance yesterday on the standards for discontinuing home isolation of people with COVID-19. Employers should follow these guidelines for determining when employees can return to work.
Prior to the update, employers were advised they could return employees with COVID-19 to the workplace under either a test-based strategy (where the return is contingent upon COVID-19 testing) or a symptom-based strategy (where the return is contingent upon a certain passage of time). Under the new guidance, a test-based strategy is no longer recommended, except in limited circumstances. Instead, employers should use the symptom-based strategy.
Changes to the symptom-based strategy have been made based on new information about the virus. The new criteria for returning employees to work under the symptom-based strategy are:
1. In general, people with COVID who have symptoms may return to work under the following conditions:
- At least 10 days* have passed since the onset of symptoms;
- At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
- Other symptoms have improved.
*For people with severe symptoms, 20 days may be required before they are no longer contagious.
2. People who tested positive with COVID who have no symptoms may return to work 10 days after their test, assuming they do not develop symptoms in the meantime.
Per the current EEOC guidance, employers may require sick employees to obtain a return to work release from a health care provider.