COVID-19 Safe Return to Worksites FAQs for Managers/Supervisors The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are provided to state government managers/supervisors to help provide guidance regarding questions and situations they may encounter when supervising employees pertaining to necessary safety measures being utilized to ensure the structured, orderly and incremental return to worksites. As COVID-19 conditions continue to evolve, this resource will be updated as needed. Managers/supervisors are encouraged to contact their Agency Human Resources Office regarding specific concerns and how topics may impact them. VERY IMPORTANT: Managers/supervisors should read and understand all Employee FAQs. For questions, contact the Agency Human Resources Office. Additional COVID-19 information: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus Disease Response Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including business guidance, travel guidance, and email updates N.C. Department of Information Technology Telework Guidance These FAQs will be updated as conditions continue to evolve. Please check back regularly for updated information. Updated May 26, 2021 COVID-19 Worksite Safety Issues COVID-19 Health Issues COVID-19 EEO/ADA and Vaccine Issues What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”? It has been 2 weeks after receiving the 2nd dose of a two dose vaccine or 2 weeks after receiving a one-dose vaccine. What should I do if my agency requires employees to wear face coverings and one of my employees refuses to do so? Contact your Agency Human Resources office for assistance with handling this matter. What should I do if an employee refuses to complete a COVID-19 health screening assessment? Contact Agency Human Resources staff for immediate handling and instructions on what actions, if any, are necessary for you to take in response. What should I do if an employee tells me they do not feel safe at the worksite or while performing any work duty due to COVID-19-related concerns? If an employee approaches their supervisor about not feeling safe, the supervisor should listen to their concerns. They may identify a safety concern that has not been considered by an agency in preparing for the return of employees. Share their suggestion with your manager. If the concern regards a worksite safety topic, contact your agency safety officer. If the employee starts to discuss their medical conditions, let the employee know that this confidential topic should be discussed with someone in the Agency Human Resources Office. An Agency human resources specialist will respond to the employee’s concern. What happens if CDC Guidance, OSHA rules or other guidance changes about COVID-19 safety in the workplace? Your Agency Human Resources Office will provide you with revised information pursuant to newly issued guidelines. What should I do if an employee requests to telework rather than working onsite citing COVID-19 concerns? The ability to continue to telework will be based on multiple factors, including your agency’s operations and onsite staffing needs. Contact your supervisor or Agency Human Resources Office to discuss available options. An employee that I supervise looks sick. What should I do? As with any employer, state agencies are charged with providing safe worksites. A state agency may conduct a written or verbal worksite health screening to determine if an employee has been recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if they appear to have or state they are experiencing related symptoms. The most common COVID-19 symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. An employee who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home with CDC/NCDHHS guidance regarding self-isolation, directions to seek assessment and guidance from their medical provider, and instructions on when to return to onsite work. State agencies will have a plan to immediately and temporarily isolate at the worksite any employee(s) who experiences COVID-19 symptoms or illness while awaiting safe transport to their home or a healthcare facility. Agency human resources will send a general email that does not identify the COVID-19 positive employee to notify coworkers who may have been exposed and handle necessary disinfection protocol per CDC guidelines if the person tests positive. Additionally, agency management and supervisors should continually emphasize to employees the importance of staying home when sick, and employees that are required to stay home by the agency should discuss leave options with their agency’s Human Resources Office. An employee that I supervise that has been at the worksite in the past seven days has tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do? Notify your Agency Human Resources Office immediately. Agency human resources personnel have been provided detailed guidance on how to manage this complex situation, which includes promptly removing the employee from the worksite (if present), sending a general email that does not identify the COVID-19 positive employee to notify coworkers who may have been exposed, and handling necessary disinfection of the worksite per CDC guidelines. The local Public Health department in the positive employee’s county of residence will handle contact tracing and provide necessary medical information as needed to specific individuals. An employee that I supervise that has been at the worksite in the past seven days has informed me that they live with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do? Notify your Agency Human Resources Office immediately. If the employee is fully vaccinated: DHHS recommends that if the employee is fully vaccinated and is not symptomatic, the employee does not need to get tested or quarantine or isolate after being exposed to COVID-19 and may continue reporting to onsite work. If the employee is NOT fully vaccinated: DHHS recommends that if the employee is not fully vaccinated, the employee needs to get tested and quarantine after COVID-19 exposure, even if the employee does not have any symptoms. Also, the employee should be instructed to contact their doctor or Public Health department. In addition, the supervisor should instruct the employee not to report to work until advised to do so. An employee informed by a doctor or local Public Health official that they should be under quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 but is not yet symptomatic should notify their supervisor about the quarantine directive. When an employee is quarantined, the employee shall be granted paid leave until the specified period of time ends or the employee becomes ill with the communicable disease, whichever comes first. The employee must provide proof of completion of quarantine to return to the workplace. An employee that I supervise has been placed under quarantine due to COVID-19 and has been at the worksite in the past 7 days. What should I do? Notify your Agency Human Resources Office immediately. Agency human resources personnel have been provided detailed guidance on how to manage this complex situation, which includes promptly removing the employee from the worksite (if present), sending a general email that does not identify the exposed employee to notify coworkers who may have been exposed, and handling necessary disinfection of the worksite, and identifying and managing close contacts if any. When an employee is quarantined, the employee shall be granted paid leave until the specified period of time ends or the employee becomes ill with the communicable disease, whichever comes first. The employee must provide proof of quarantine. What should I do if an employee requests an accommodation related to COVID-19? For example, an employee tells me they are “high risk” or want to take FMLA? Direct the employee to contact the ADA/EEO specialist in the Agency Human Resources Office to learn if they are eligible for an accommodation. Do not volunteer an opinion regarding potential eligibility or outcome. If I supervise an employee that I know has a “high-risk” condition, may I go ahead and make accommodations before the employee requests an accommodation? You should wait for the employee to first request an accommodation before taking any action. If you have any concerns about the employee’s ability to safely perform their duties without an accommodation, contact the ADA/EEO specialist in your Agency Human Resources Office. What should I do if an employee tells me that they contracted COVID-19 at work? Immediately direct the employee to contact the Agency Human Resources Office to discuss their concerns. Agency human resources personnel will respond to the employee’s request. Due to the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, many agencies will begin to reopen their worksites to employees. Are there steps managers should take to address possible harassment and discrimination against co-workers? Yes, managers should remind all employees that it is against federal EEO law and state policy to harass or otherwise discriminate against coworkers. Fear of the COVID-19 pandemic should not be misdirected against individuals because of a protected characteristic, including their national origin, race, or other prohibited bases. Managers should be alert to demeaning, derogatory, or hostile remarks directed to employees who are or are perceived to be of Chinese or other Asian national origin, including about the coronavirus or its origins. Managers and supervisors should watch for, stop, and report to HR any harassment or other forms of discrimination. An agency learns that an employee who is teleworking due to the pandemic is sending harassing emails to another worker. What actions should the agency take? The agency should take the same actions it would take if the employee were in the workplace. Employees may not harass other employees through, for example, emails, calls, or platforms for video or chat communication and collaboration. For additional information, please see updated federal EEO Guidance. Is asking or requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination a disability-related inquiry? No. According to the EEOC guidelines, there are many reasons that may explain why an employee has not been vaccinated, which may or may not be disability related. Simply requesting proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination is not likely to elicit information about a disability and, therefore, is not a disability-related inquiry. However, subsequent agency questions, such as asking why an individual did not receive a vaccination, may elicit information about a disability and would be subject to the pertinent ADA standard that they be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” If an agency requires employees to provide proof that they have received a COVID-19 vaccination from a pharmacy or their own health care provider or other COVID-19 vaccine provider, the agency may want to warn the employee not to provide any medical information as part of the proof in order to avoid implicating the ADA. If an employee was engaging in onsite work prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, must they now be allowed to permanently telework from home if they have a qualifying health condition and request an accommodation? No, unless the employee has a qualifying health condition that has materially changed since the time the employee stopped reporting onsite and permanent telework is a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship for the agency. How should an agency handle an employee’s ADA request for accommodation to permanently telework due to an underlying health condition related or unrelated to COVID-19 safety? Agencies should handle ADA requests for accommodation consistent with the statewide Reasonable Accommodation policy.