On December 2, 2020, the CDC updated its guidelines for employers to help them determine when an employee must quarantine, if they have had contact with a positive COVID-19 (“COVID”) individual, and how long an employee must stay home from work if they are suffering from symptoms from COVID or have tested positive for COVID. Understanding when to apply the 7/10 day rules is important to employers when applying their attendance policies.
Under the new guidelines, if an employer has an employee who thinks they have come into close contact with another individual who has either tested positive for COVID or has suffered symptoms of COVID, the employee should be required to quarantine for no less than 10 days from the date of the contact, so long as the employee does not have any symptoms. The wait period can be shortened to 7 days if the employee has no symptoms and gets a negative test result. Under the previous guidelines an employee would have to quarantine for 14 days. The key question now is whether the employee truly had a “close contact” with someone who had the disease.
The CDC defines a “close contact” as:
According to the CDC, unless you fall into one of these categories, you have not suffered a “close contact” with someone who has suffered from COVID and you do not have to quarantine. Also, even if your employee had close contact with someone with COVID, if they meet the following criteria they do not need to stay home. They can avoid the quarantine if the employee:
If your employee meets these criteria, they are not considered contagious.
In determining when you can allow someone to return to work after they have developed symptoms from COVID and/or have tested positive for COVID, the CDC recommends that the employee remain at home and away from work for 10 days, starting on the first day they developed symptoms from COVID; or if they had no symptoms, 10 days from the date they were first tested positive for COVID. After the 10 days, they can return to work so long as they are symptom free. This is true even if they test positive to another test.
Making sure that someone who is sick with COVID does not expose any other coworkers and has sufficient time to recover is your goal. The CDC’s new 7/10 day rules should be helpful in keeping your workforce safe and your business open.