Your Employee Tested Positive for COVID-19. . . Now What?

As a small business owner, it’s important that you know how to manage your sick leave, create and manage support policies and institute practices to keep everyone safe.

It’s looking like COVID-19 is going to be here for a while. As a small business owner, it’s important that you know how to manage your sick leave, create and manage support policies and institute practices to keep everyone safe. This is especially important in the event one of your workers should test positive for the virus. This is a challenging time for all businesses, as well as for all employees as there is a chance that employees may come to work sick because they are afraid of losing their jobs or because they financially have no other choice. As an employer it is up to you to make sure your place of business is safe and ready in the event you have an employee who tests positive.

You first must make sure you have flexible sick leave and strong support policies and practices. These policies must be in line with all local, state and federal legislation. This includes having a detailed sick leave policy in written form, preferably in your employee manual.

In the unfortunate event you do have an employee who tests positive, you must be prepared to manage it properly. This is a balancing act between the privacy of the employee(s) who tested positive and the rights of other employees and/or customers who may be in danger of exposure.

RELATED: Tips for Safely Reopening Your Business After the Coronavirus Shutdown

Here are a few tips to help you manage the situation if you should have an employee test positive:

  • Communicate the situation immediately to all employees and anyone else who may have come in contact with that employee. Update your announcements as often as needed.

  • Use real facts and data to help you make your decisions and to use in your communications.

  • Never share anyone’s private information. You can say “an employee tested positive” but do not name that employee. You can mention the area or department of the business where they work, i.e. sales, etc.

  • Include in your communication details of all preventative measures that you are taking to reduce the risk of further spreading of the virus. This includes all sanitation measures, policies on social distancing, installing shields, deep cleaning, closing for a few days, etc.

  • Take extra precautions to make sure not only the infected individual’s workspace or team is notified and sanitized, but that the entire building or place of business is also fully sanitized.

  • Keep the lines of communication open to help keep staff calm and feeling protected. Let them know you are taking all precautions and following all guidelines. Tell them they can come to you with any concerns.

We have to live with this virus for the immediate future. Following these important steps will help to keep both your employees and your customers safe, and to keep your business open.

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at

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