Updated: Dec 8, 2022
As Covid-19 continues to affect many aspects of our lives, it is imperative that we as employers keep up with the latest guidelines to ensure we are in line with our state requirements. New Hampshire’s current Covid-19 directives are contained in the NH Safer at Home Universal Guidelines. Today, we want to call your attention to a helpful update from the NH Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, posted on January 6, offering step-by-step guidance to employers when someone in the workplace tests positive.
We’ve summarized the five basic steps to the process here:
1. Employee Notifies Employer – employees are responsible to notify their employer if they are experiencing symptoms or if they have tested positive for Covid-19.
2. *Identification of Close Contacts – employers, it is your responsibility to notify those who have been in close contact (within 6 feet for more than ten minutes) at any time during the window that starts two days before the employee developed symptoms. Or in the absence of symptoms, start from two days before their positive test. This is what that phrase "contact tracing" means, and it’s important to do this in a timely manner.
3. Isolation for People with Covid-19 – any employee with Covid-19 should stay home and self-isolate until return-to-work criteria are met.
4. Quarantine of Close Contacts – close contacts who were identified above should self-quarantine for 10 days and are strongly recommended to take a Covid-19 test themselves.
5. Return to Work - these are the criteria for returning to work after Covid-19:
In the case of symptoms -
· At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND
· At least 24 hours have passed since fever went away without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms have improved
In the case of a positive test WITHOUT symptoms -
· 10 days have passed since the date of the positive COVID-19 diagnostic test
The full text of this update and other Federal and New Hampshire resources are available here:
*A word about Step 2. This step is key for your preparedness as an employer. To handle contact tracing in a timely manner, you’ll need to have a plan in place ahead of time so that you can quickly find out not only when the employee was working, but also whom they have worked, carpooled, had meetings, and even taken breaks with.
Your plan should start with educating your team about federal, state, and local Covid-19 prevention and response protocols. In addition, you might identify a central point person to keep track of updates and maintain documentation of attendance at any meetings and work sessions. You could also encourage your team to keep a personal log of close contact, like eating or riding in a vehicle together, so that they can use to help you identify those who may have been exposed. This is especially key because the exposure window begins before symptoms or a positive test result appear, and these details can be difficult to recall after the fact.
A reminder here that privacy is also important, so while you can interview the employee about who they have been in close contact with (as defined above) at work, don’t disclose to coworkers any information about another employee’s health.
The health and safety of your team should, as always, be your first priority.
If you need help with employee communications, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.