CDC Issues Interim Guidance to Help Employers Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease

By Mike Derderian, Catherine Reuben, Peter Moser, Charlotte Petilla, John Graff   February 18, 2020

This month, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) published Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization) to help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. While much is unknown about COVID-19 and how the disease spreads, COVID-19 is spreading person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in other countries, including the U.S.

The CDC’s interim guidance provides recommended strategies for employers to use to prevent the exposure and spread of acute respiratory illnesses, describing when employees should be actively encouraged to stay home and emphasizing the importance of flexible and non-punitive leave policies. The CDC also recommends that employers actively communicate their expectations with respect to respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by placing posters containing such information in workplace areas where they are likely to be viewed, and that they check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest travel guidance and recommendations. Of course, when implementing safe workplace policies, employers should be careful to avoid stigma and discrimination in the workplace. Employers should not make determinations of risk based on race or county of origin and should be sure to maintain the confidentiality of people with confirmed coronavirus infection.

For Questions/More Information

HRW’s own John Graff recently released the latest episode of his podcast Higher Ground “Coronavirus, College Campuses, and Xenophobia” (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify), in which he details the timeline of COVID-19’s spread and discusses what steps colleges and universities should take to protect students, a discussion which is sure to resonate with non-higher education entities as well.

For questions, please contact any of the following HRW attorneys:

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