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As COVID-19 infection rates continue to climb, it’s imperative that churches respond quickly when an employee is diagnosed. Here are the steps employers should take:

Notify Employees
Employees should be notified of potential exposure in the workplace, but they should not be told who is sick. Employees won’t like that they can’t gauge their own risk, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires this type of information to remain confidential. Don’t worry if employees figure it out on their own, but make sure you’re not the one to reveal the information.

Assess the Risk of Exposure and Quarantine If Advisable
If there was close contact for a prolonged period (about six feet or less for 15 minutes or more over the course of 24 hours), exposed employees should quarantine. If you aren’t confident in your risk assessment, call your local or state health authority to help you determine which employees should quarantine.

Disinfect Areas Used by the Sick Employee
The CDC recommends the following practices (among others):

    • Close off areas used by the person who is sick for 24 hours, if possible.
    • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
    • Clean and disinfect areas and items used by the person who is sick (their workstation, bathrooms, common areas, tablets, touch screens, keyboard, registers). Wait as long as possible before cleaning and disinfecting.
    • If it has been seven days or more since the person who is sick was in the workplace, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.

For more detailed instructions on cleaning and disinfecting the workplace after someone is diagnosed, and lots of great general guidance, see the CDC’s Guidance for Business and Employers. Calling your local or state health authority is recommended as well.

Determine When an Employee Can Return to Work

Sick employees should work with their healthcare providers to determine when to return to the workplace. Generally, an employee will be okay to return when at least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of medication, and other symptoms have improved, and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since the positive test result, if the employee is asymptomatic.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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