A Worker May Be Sick or Exposed to COVID-19 What are COVID-19 symptoms and what do I need to do if an employee is sick or exposed?

Ensure that workers know the symptoms of COVID-19 and encourage them to stay home if they have any of the following:

  • Fever (Temperature greater than 100.4F)
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Recent loss of taste or smell
  • Difficulty breathing

Read more on California's website for COVID-19 Symptoms and Facts.

You should encourage employees to let supervisors know if they think they have been exposed to COVID-19 or if they have symptoms. Workers should stay home unless they need medical care. Paid sick leave may be available to them while they recover at home. Provide workers with information on how they can request and use paid sick leave or supplemental paid sick leave benefits.

You must investigate and respond to a COVID-19 case in the workplace by doing the following:

  • Determine when the COVID-19 case was last in the workplace, and if possible the date of testing and onset of symptoms.
  • Determine which employees may have been exposed to COVID-19 (within six feet for 15 minutes within a 24-hour period).
  • Notify employees of any potential exposures within one business day (and notify any other employer who has potentially exposed employees in the workplace).
  • Offer testing to potentially exposed employees at no cost and during their normal working hours.
  • Investigate the exposure and determine whether workplace conditions could have contributed to the risk of exposure, and what hazard corrections would reduce exposure.
  • Follow all recordkeeping and reporting requirements for employee COVID-19 cases.
  • Exclude from the workplace employees who test positive for COVID-19 and employees with COVID-19 exposure, and follow the requirements for preserving their pay and benefits
  • Follow the return to work criteria for returning excluded employees to work

Employers must record COVID-19 cases in their injury and illnesses logs. You must also notify Cal/OSHA right away when there is a serious illnesses or fatality related to COVID-19. Read Cal/OSHA's FAQs on recording and reporting COVID-19 cases.

You should temporarily close the general area where the COVID-19 case worked until cleaning is completed. Conduct deep cleaning of the entire general area where the infected employee worked and may have been, including breakrooms, restrooms and travel areas, with a cleaning agent approved for use by the EPA against coronavirus. It should ideally be performed by a professional cleaning service.

  • Any person cleaning the area should be provided and use the proper persona protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 disinfection (disposable gown, gloves, eye protection, mask, or respirator if required) in addition to PPE required for cleaning products.

Employers must exclude from work employees who test positive for COVID-19, or have had COVID-19 exposure from the workplace. A COVID-19 case may return to work when any of the following occur:

  • For employees with symptoms all of these conditions must be met:
    1. At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications;
    2. COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and
    3. At least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.
  • For employees without symptoms, at least 10 days have passed since the COVID-19 case's first positive test.
  • If a licensed health care professional determines the person is not/is no longer a COVID-19 case, in accordance with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or local health department recommendations.

Employees with COVID-19 exposure may return to the workplace 14 days after the last known COVID-19 exposure. A negative test is not required to return to work.

January 2021