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Employer Obligation In The Face Of The Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus continues to spread, the question arises of what steps an Employer should take in the workplace to protect their employees. The Coronavirus (“virus”) is an upper-respiratory virus that originates from China. It is speculated that the virus is spread via airborne transmission such as through a cough or sneeze. Individuals who has been infected with the virus often suffer symptoms such as mild to severe respiratory illness, fever, cough and difficulty breathing. As an Employer, it is important that you take the spread of this virus seriously and ensure that proper steps are taken to protect employees from this hazard.

What is an Employer’s responsibility?

Employers are required to maintain a safe workplace and must abide by Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements. Although there are no specific OSHA standards covering the virus, there are still overarching OSHA requirements that employers must abide by, including providing their employees with a safe and healthy work environment.  These include protecting employees against any “recognized hazards” to safety or health. As the virus has yet to be contained and the spread is causing significant concern, an Employer may need to implement steps in order to maintain a safe workplace. To that end, Employers should look to resources such as the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization or other guidelines for appropriate Coronavirus precautions.

Some basic steps Employer may take to prevent the spread of disease and keep employees healthy include:

  • Educating employees on the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and the precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk of contracting the virus;
  • Providing facial masks, hand sanitizer; encouraging employees to wash hands, and disinfect common areas daily;
  • Implementing a plan or policy to prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace or a plan on how to assess any risks of exposure– this can include: implementing travel guidelines/procedures for travel to China, or issue policies instructing employees what to do if they show symptoms.

Employers should continue to stay informed about any important Coronavirus updates. If you have any questions about your Cal-OSHA/OSHA requirements or the implementation of policies surrounding the virus, please contact Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.


The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.


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