Can I tell employees if a coworker has tested positive for coronavirus? No

Conner Strong & Buckelew has been monitoring the primary questions we have been receiving from clients around the coronavirus. These have been categorized into two categories: 1) Benefit and policy/coverage issues; and, 2) At-large workplace questions. We have and will continue to inventory these questions and provide factual updates accordingly.

Below are the Top 3 questions (with the answers) we have seen related to the at-large workplace items. As always, consult with your human resources and legal teams on these issues, but we hope this information will be useful.

We will continue to provide updates on coronavirus-related matters. The Conner Strong & Buckelew team is here to help you with benefit related issues. Please contact us with any issues.

  • Can I tell employees if a coworker has tested positive for the coronavirus or other communicable disease?

No. The Americans with Disabilities Act privacy rules restrict employers from sharing personal health information of an employee. Employers should inform employees that possible exposure has occurred in the workplace without disclosing any identifying information about the individual who tested positive.

  • Can I ask an employee if he or she has the coronavirus?

Employers can ask an employee how he or she is feeling in general, but should not inquire about a specific illness as that could rise to the level of a disability-related inquiry under the ADA.

  • What should we do if an employee discloses that they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus to stay at home.

Conner Strong & Buckelew is among America’s largest insurance brokerage, employee benefits and risk management consulting firms.

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