If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
- The employer should contact the business liaison team for help stopping any further spread among your workforce.
- If two or more employees test positive, it may be considered an outbreak and the employer MUST contact the business liaison team to report the outbreak and work on a mitigation plan to reduce further spread of the virus.
- Send the employee home immediately; they must isolate for at least 10 days and according to public health requirements
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces, provide extra ventilation
- Require all employees who had close contact with the person who tested positive (e.g. was within 6 feet for cumulative 15 minutes within a 24-hour period, regardless of mask wearing) to quarantine at home for 14 days. A negative test result does not remove the requirement to quarantine because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to become detectable. We know this requirement can be challenging when running a business. Please reach out to us for support.
The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to separate those who are ill or test positive from those who are well.
- According to the Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law (PHEW) employers cannot discipline, cut hours, reduce wages, or fire an employee for asking their options about taking leave, taking time off they are entitled to, or asking about their rights.
- The law also applies to employees working as independent contractors and those who are undocumented.
Protective Equipment & Environment
Employers are obligated to provide their workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs, including:
- Hand sanitizer
- Ensuring workers can work at minimum six feet apart
- Ensuring workers have the ability to wash their hands
Employers must also make sure the following is happening in the workplace:
- Employees are keeping at least six feet between people.
- Employees are required to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze into sleeve or elbow, and do not shake hands.
- High-touch areas and common spaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Employees are required to wear masks if they are regularly working within 6 feet of other employees, or if they interact with the public.
- There is a workplace coordinator to address COVID-19 issues.
- There is proper ventilation.
- Signs about good hygiene are posted for employees and customers.
- Employees are monitored for symptoms and conduct daily temperature checks.
- Employees who have symptoms are sent home, cleaning is increased, and all staff are required to practices social distancing.
- Boulder County Public Health is contacted if multiple employees have symptoms.
- There are no gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Employees are required to stay home when they are sick and are connected to company or state health benefit providers.
- Employees are encouraged and enabled to work from home when possible.
- Employees are encouraged to take breaks to wash hands or use hand sanitizer.
- Shifts and breaks are phased to reduce density.
- Appropriate protective gear like gloves, masks, and face coverings is provided.
- Certain employers with more than 50 employees must perform symptom screening and temperature checks, close common areas, implement cleaning protocols, and require social distancing.
Signage helps establish expectations for employees and customers. Materials for business are available from:
Legal Protections for Employees
Individuals at Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19
The following protections are available for employees who are considered vulnerable themselves, or live with, or care for a vulnerable individual:
- An employer cannot force a Vulnerable Individual to physically go to work during the pandemic.
- An employer must try to help a Vulnerable Individual continue to work while at home.
- Employers are encouraged to provide work accommodations such as allowing working from home for employees who live with or care for a Vulnerable Individual.
If employees have paid medical leave available, they’re more likely to adhere to isolation and quarantine guidance which helps to stop further spread of the virus. The following laws that may apply:
- Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplace Act (HFWA) (Spanish) requires all employers of all sizes to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees for COVID-19 reasons, including having COVID-19 symptoms and seeking diagnosis, being required to quarantine or isolate, caring for someone else who is required to quarantine or isolate, or caring for a child due to a COVID-19 school closure.
- Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules (Colorado HELP). This requires employers to provide up to four days of paid medical leave for individuals who need to self-isolate or have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) Overview FAQ on FFCRA from Department of Labor
- An employee who has COVID-19 may be entitled to an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as medical leave if symptoms are serious enough to substantially limit major life activities like breathing and taking care of one’s self.
Report a Concern
If an employer is not meeting these requirements report concerns:
- Call the Public Health Call Center at 720-776-0822 or
- Complete the online form
Boulder County Public Health staff will determine if there has been a violation of a public health order and will follow up with the business or work with law enforcement, if needed. If Boulder County Public Health identifies employers who continue to violate employment or COVID-19 requirements, the state will send them a letter reinforcing their responsibilities under the law.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment accepts complaints for unpaid paid sick leave, other earned wages, and other violations of Colorado wage and hour law. Workers who have had their rights violated are entitled to back pay, possibly restitution, and reinstatement of their position.
- Colorado Department of Labor & Employment: Division of Hour and Wage: information about wage and hourly laws, discrimination, and retaliation protections
- Guidance to Employers/Businesses Regarding Employee Protections & Reasonable Accommodations Including Masks Due to COVID-19
- Towards Justice non-profit law firm: COVID-19 FAQs on Workplace Safety, Unemployment, Working from Home, Disability, Paid Leave (English & Spanish)
- Colorado Department of Labor & Employment, Division of Hour and Wage
- Boulder County Bar Association Virtual Legal Clinic (Spanish)
- Click yes for “Is this COVID-19 related” to prioritize a request for an attorney.
Examples of when to use this resource:
- I’m under quarantine/isolation should I be getting paid?
- Someone in my work tested positive, can I stay home?
- Can my employer make me come to work?
- And other nuanced questions that require legal interpretation
- Towards Justice online intake form (English/Spanish) for questions or to evaluate cases here: Employers do not need to be based in Colorado (traveling nurses, contract work)
Boulder County Public Health cannot provide legal advice and does not endorse any attorney or law firm. Boulder County Public Health is not responsible for the availability of outside resources, nor does Boulder County Public Health endorse, nor is it responsible for, any of the products or services delivered by any outside organization.