Hey, boss, my coworker just cleared her throat twice. Can you send her home?
As a manager in a pre-COVID office environment, what would you have done? Maybe nothing. Overreaction by a manager could have been seen as invading someone’s personal space and intruding upon someone’s private health concerns.
However, during a pandemic, it is best practice for management to require an employee to leave immediately if he/she exhibits symptoms of illness. The employee must stay out until 10 days have passed since symptoms began and self-certify upon re-entering the office as per CDC guidelines.
Now, that’s a lot for a manager to enforce because an employee cleared her throat a few times. When COVID entered our world, common sense didn’t need to exit. Maybe she swallowed a mint wrong. Those Altoids can be pretty harsh…
Give yourself a reality check. Is this the first time you’ve heard that employee clear her throat? Yes? Continue to monitor. Don’t be an alarmist.
If it’s not the first time you’ve heard the throat-clearing, is the employee exhibiting any other symptoms, like sneezing, coughing, or lethargy? Symptom monitoring (including daily temperature checks) during a pandemic is critical, and early detection of any symptoms is helpful in maintaining overall health of your workforce and continuing your business’s operations. So, talk to the employee. Do it in private. Be kind. And, be respectful.
I’ve heard you clear your throat a few times. Do you think you’re coming down with something?
Oh, your throat hurts? Well, let’s be careful.
You have plenty of work you can do from home, so why don’t you work remotely for the rest of the day?
(Or, you have plenty of PTO, so why not use it now?)
Check with me tomorrow before heading back to the office. We just need to be extra cautious.
Feel better. I’m sure we’ll see you back in the office soon. Call me if you need anything.
Can you hear the tone? It’s gentle. It’s kind. It’s respectful. And, the conversation is held in private. But, the best result is still accomplished. An employee potentially exhibiting symptoms is leaving the office immediately. Now, wash your hands and continue with your day. Common sense + kindness = good employee relations.
If you have any questions regarding HOA legal issues, please contact any of our attorneys at 303.432.9999. If you have questions regarding the presence or absence of common sense in the workplace, contact Missy Hirst, Legal Administrator at [email protected].