This document is intended to provide guidance to owners and managers of essential businesses and services that continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- How can I protect my employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Essential businesses and services are encouraged to put the following measures into place to safeguard the well-being of employees and volunteers:
- Post signage to alert workers to the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- Display posters promoting hand-washing and respiratory hygiene.
- Make hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies available in workspaces throughout your facility.
- Increase the frequency of environmental cleaning for all common areas and frequently touched surfaces. Please use this fact sheet to learn more about cleaning and disinfection for public settings.
- Consider reviewing sick-leave policies for employees who are ill.
- Ask employees and volunteers to self-isolate for 14 days from symptom onset if they:
- have COVID-19 symptoms;
- are close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19; or
- have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days (even if they don’t have symptoms).
Employers can also encourage staff to:
- stay home when ill;
- work from home, if possible;
- participate in virtual meetings rather than meeting in person;
- screen themselves daily before coming to work using the Ontario online self-assessment tool;
- wash hands frequently with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub;
- avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth;
- cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve; and
- practice physical distancing (social distancing), by maintaining a two-metre/six-foot distance from others.
For more information, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Employers, employees and essential service workers
- What should I do if my employee is being tested for COVID-19?
- While the employee is waiting for test results, they should not go to work and should isolate at home.
- Individuals that have had close contact (spent extensive time within a two-metre radius) with this employee may need to take additional precautions, such as self-monitoring for symptoms or self-isolating. If the employee tests positive for COVID-19, they will be contacted by Halton Region Public Health. Halton Region Public Health will provide them with guidance on next steps and will conduct an investigation to identify their close contacts.
- What should I do if my employee has come into close contact with someone else who is confirmed positive for COVID-19?
If your employee has come into close contact with someone who is confirmed positive for COVID-19, Halton Region Public Health will contact the employee to inform them. Depending on their level of exposure, they may be asked to self-monitor for symptoms or to self-isolate. If self-monitoring, they will be asked to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and if they become symptomatic, to self-isolate for 14 days from when symptoms began.
To be considered a close contact, the employee would have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19 while they were ill or 48 hours prior to their symptoms (for example, fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat).
A close contact is defined as a person who:
- provided care (for example, feeding, bathing, toileting) for the individual, or had other close physical contact;
- lives in the same household;
- had close contact (within 2 metres) for a prolonged period (for example, greater than one hour) with the person while they were infectious; or
- had direct contact with infectious bodily fluids of the person (for example, was coughed or sneezed on).
- What should I do if my employee is confirmed positive for COVID-19?
If an employee is confirmed positive for COVID-19, the following steps should occur:
- Employers are not required to report their employees to Halton Region Public Health. Confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 are reported by health-care providers and laboratories to public health departments.
- The employee will be asked to inform their employer that they have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Halton Region Public Health will contact the employee to provide guidance, identify close contacts and perform a risk assessment for all exposures that may have occurred in the workplace.
- Halton Region Public Health will work closely with the employee who tested positive to identify all close contacts at work while the case was infectious, including clients, vendors or third-parties. Public Health may contact the employer to assist with identifying close contacts in the workplace as required. Individuals that have had close contact (spent extensive time within a two-metre radius) with the employee may need to take additional precautions, such as self-monitoring for symptoms or self-isolation.
- If close contacts have been identified and the employee does not have their contact information, the employer may be asked to provide contact information for these individuals. Halton Region Public Health will then follow up with each individual accordingly.
- In some situations, employers may be directed by Public Health to notify all staff who worked during the exposure dates of their potential risk of infection. When notifying staff, employers must maintain confidentiality and not identify the name of the employee who was confirmed positive for COVID-19. In this communication, employers should consider explaining the actions that will be taken to protect the ongoing health and safety of employees (for example, cleaning and disinfection of the workplace).
- When can my employee who tested positive for COVID-19 return to work?
- Halton Region Public Health monitors individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and will advise the employee when it is safe for them to return to work.
- Other employees who are identified as close contacts of a COVID-19 case may also be asked to self-isolate and will not be able to work during that time. Public Health will advise these employees when it is safe for them to return to work.