Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F or greater using an oral thermometer). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.

Talk with companies that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.

Do not require a health-care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as health-care provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.

Separate sick employeesThe CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e., cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.

Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees:

Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene at the entrance to UCB and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.

Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.

Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.

Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs at multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.

Perform routine environmental cleaningRoutinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.

Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:

Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.

If outside the United States, sick employees can contact a U.S. consular officer can help locate health-care services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.

Additional measures to considerEmployees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with 2019-nCoV should notify their supervisor of their potential exposure.

If an employee is confirmed to have 2019-nCov infection, UCB should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to 2019-nCoV in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Common Sense Counsel: Making the above into your risk-reduction HR policy will let all know you are taking the coronavirus threat seriously with a measured approach and not hysteria.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks,

Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, AL office and can be

contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901

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