COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions for Supervisors
Can supervisors send a sick employee home?
Yes. If an employee has symptoms of an infectious disease or virus (e.g., COVID-19 or flu), supervisors have the authority to require an employee to leave the workplace to prevent the spread of the illness to others.
Whenever practicable, supervisors should first seek approval of their department head, dean/division head and/or HREO (Benefits) before sending a sick employee home. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and/or a cough. Decisions to send employees home are made based on observable symptoms of illness and in a non-discriminatory manner. Supervisors should be mindful to make decisions based on observable facts and symptoms and not panic or fear. Practices should be based on presentation of symptoms and agencies should avoid discrimination based on race, ethnicity, etc.
What if an employee reports direct exposure to or has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19?
If a supervisor receives employee notification of a positive COVID-19 test result, they should: Immediately report the positive case IF the employee has not already self-reported their case, submit Notification of a COVID-19 Incident Form online (Preferred reporting method) or send an email to COVID@coastal.edu); or notify the Contact Tracing Call Center at (843)349-4100.
As a supervisor, how can I prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our community?
Supervisors should encourage their employees who are scheduled to work on campus to “self-monitor” their health. Employees should take their temperatures before arriving to campus to begin their shifts. Due to public health concerns, if an employee has a fever, and/or is experiencing other symptoms such as a respiratory illness, severe cough or shortness of breath, the employee cannot report to work. As a supervisor, you have the authority, as explained above, to send an employee home if it appears that an employee is exhibiting any of these symptoms.
Can I refer employees who may be experiencing symptoms related to COVD-19 or the flu to Student Health Services?
No. Supervisors and members of management should encourage employees to seek assistance from a health care provider. Employees should NOT be referred to Student Health Services for diagnosis or treatment as this facility provides support for students only. Student employees who work on campus may seek support from Student Health Services.
When is a doctor’s note required before sick employees return to work?
In certain circumstances, the University may require a doctor’s note prior to returning to work, however, the more important factor is that a supervisor confirms a sick employee has observed the appropriate quarantine or isolation period before returning to work.
Based on this public health situation, it may not be feasible for a health care provider to validate an employee’s ability to return to work even if the employee has been sick with respiratory illness. This is due, in part, to the fact that health care facilities and offices may be extremely busy and not able to provide documentation in a timely manner. In the event an employee receives a doctor’s note or an acknowledgment form from DHEC, the employee should submit it to HREO (Benefits).
Can I require an employee to provide a doctor’s note to establish they are in a higher risk or special population concerning COVID-19?
Supervisors should not require certification by a medical professional that an individual is within the CDC and DHEC higher risk or special populations and may accept self-identification by employees that they are in one of these populations. This self-identification may be made verbally or be required in writing.
Can an employee refuse to come to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19?
If an employee refuses to come to work due to fear of COVID-19, the supervisor should contact HREO (Employee Relations) for guidance.
Can a supervisor require an employee to interact with a symptomatic student?
Yes, an employee may be required to work and perform their regular duties and any assigned duties within or ancillary to their scope of responsibility. Supervisors should direct questions to HREO (Employee Relations) for guidance.
Do the requirements of HIPAA still apply when we are trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has relaxed enforcement of the HIPAA Privacy Rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, but covered entities are not excused from complying with the protections of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) during the pandemic. All Employees should exercise care and observe all privacy protections when communicating with supervisors and managers about COVID-19.
What can the University communicate to employees if there is a presumptive or confirmed case among one of its employees?
Supervisors and members of management are not authorized to release information regarding an employee’s exposure and/or condition unless explicitly instructed to do so by CCU’s Office of University Counsel. If necessary to protect the health of other individuals, HREO will communicate directly to individuals who may have had direct contact with an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Where can a supervisor obtain guidance on best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace?
Supervisors should work with CCU’s Office of Emergency Management or Environmental Health and Safety Department to stay apprised of information regarding transmission of the illness and precautions that should be taken to reduce the spread of influenza or any other contagious disease in the workplace. Supervisors should observe all guidance on best practices for prevention and treat COVID-19 as a serious illness in the workplace.
What can I do to prepare for any possible changes in operations?
Supervisors are encouraged to consider the critical functions of their respective areas and determine whether and how those functions can be performed in a temporary remote work environment. Supervisors should also review and update the essential personnel position designations to identify the employees needed to perform the critical functions of the area. Link to CCU’s Essential Personnel Policy: See CCU’s Essential Personnel Policy »