COVID-19 Pandemic: What to Do When An Employee Gets Sick


Everyone is doing their best to limit the spread of COVID-19. From social distancing and hand washing on a personal level to remote working and improved sanitation measures on the professional front, the way we work has changed. Even if your construction business is taking these extra steps, your employees may still come down with the virus, leaving you scrambling and unsure of what to do.  

Follow these steps if your employee gets sick with coronavirus to protect your company, your team members, and your clients.   

Act With Compassion

The first thing to do when an employee comes down with coronavirus is to be sympathetic to his or her case. A little compassion goes a long way during this time of need. 

“Even if the person’s symptoms are mild, they are likely to be anxious about what might happen or whether they might have spread the virus to their family or coworkers,” Alisa Cohn, executive coach, writes for the Harvard Business Review.

Sick employees are worried about their health and their family, but also their careers. They likely don’t want to miss work and don’t know if they will still have a job when they return. Take a few moments to assure them that their focus needs to be on their health, and that they have your support.  

Even before one of your employees may catch the virus, consider creating an HR-guided training on how to self-isolate properly and how to let management know about your situation. This way everyone will be on the same page. The Global and Mail has a strong guide for employers and employees, along with Johns Hopkins Medicine

Alert Other Employees About a Sick Worker

The next step when an employee gets sick with COVID-19 is to alert co-workers. You do not need to be specific about which team member is sick – and legally should avoid naming the employee – but you owe it to your team members to let them know that they are at risk. 

With this information, your employees can consult their physicians about the exposure and take steps to self-isolate to avoid spreading the virus. You can also use this time to remind employees about the company’s sick leave policy and alert them to any updates you may have made because of federal mandates and the coronavirus.     

Notify Any Affected Customers

Your customers should also know if they have come into contact with an infected employee. For this step, you will want to take a professional, proactive approach. Draft a message explaining that the employee tested positive for COVID-19, and list the steps your company is taking to further prevent the spread of the virus. If the employee has only been working with one client on a major project, you may want to call them personally about the situation. 

Even if you don’t have an employee that has tested positive for COVID-19, drafting this message and a surrounding plan can prepare you in case an infection occurs. 

Sanitize the Work Areas and Surfaces the Employee Touched

Clear the work area of the affected employee, and dedicate a day to cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces in which the associate might have come into contact. According to one study by the New England Journal of Medicine, COVID-19 is still viable for dozens of hours on different surfaces. These include:

  • 72 hours on plastics
  • 48 hours on stainless steel
  • 24 hours on cardboard

Cleaning an area with soap and water is an important start. You can also sanitize surfaces with diluted bleach. Cleaning and sanitizing will also make your employees feel safer coming into work after learning that one of their own is infected. 

COVID-19 presents a clear and present danger to all of us. Remaining vigilant during the crisis and taking a proactive approach of creating an action plan to keep employees and customers safe reinforces your focus on customer and employee safety.


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