How to Deal with Sickness at Work During COVID-19

Q: An employee tells others “Go home so you don’t get everyone sick.” How do I handle this?

A: Now that we know more about the symptoms of COVID-19, there are some pretty well-known expectations that have been set. An employer should post that if you’re having symptoms (coughing, feeling sick, running a fever, etc.), then don’t come to work.

The best way to handle an employee engaging in this type of behavior is to pull that employee aside and have a conversation with them. Tell the employee that rather than going directly to a person who might be sick, especially in front of a room full of people, bring it to human resources so they can talk to the individual privately. If that person is in fact sick, HR can encourage the individual to head home.

It’s important to keep in mind that we don’t want to give in to the fear factor. There are many reasons why people cough, like allergies. It happened before COVID-19, it’s going to happen after. We can’t have an automatic kneejerk response every time someone has a cough or a little sniffle or something like that. The main thing is to impress upon your employees that their health and safety is of utmost concern, and that the expectation as an employer should be that if you don’t feel well, we don’t want you here. For your own safety and for the safety of all other employees.

Is your business struggling with employee issues related to COVID-19? We can help with that. Contact Jennifer Heylmun at 281-469-1800 or by email at to schedule a Discovery meeting.

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