From The HR Support Center: Should You Send a Coughing Employee Home?

From The HR Support Center: Should You Send a Coughing Employee Home?

An employee of ours had a brief coughing fit today, but she says she just had something caught in her throat. As far as we’ve seen, she hasn’t experienced any symptoms associated with COVID-19 other than this one time. Do we need to send her home just in case? 

No. If you’ve confirmed that she isn’t experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, it is recommended treating this instance of coughing as a one-off event and not indicative of the virus. You can remind her and other employees to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms, but one instance of coughing could be due to any number of factors, and in this case the employee provided an alternate explanation. 

That said, if an employee were to have persistent coughing, then it would be advisable to send them home. If that employee were to claim their symptoms are from another cause (e.g., allergies, asthma, common cold), the most risk-averse response would be to send them home with pay until the symptoms resolve or they can provide evidence of the other source of the symptoms. 

We also recommend that employees wear masks at work, even if not required by your state or locality. The potential risk that any employee poses to others goes down significantly if they are wearing a mask while coughing (or talking, laughing, sneezing, or simply breathing). 

The HR Support Center is a service offered to Payroll Partners clients, and provides access to exclusive, industry-leading HR tools and resources, for just a few dollars a month. From employee handbooks, job descriptions and other commonly used HR documents, to up-to-the-minute law alerts, easy-to-understand state and federal law libraries, and unique training videos, the HR Support Center will help you effectively manage your HR compliance and employee relations needs.

Original content by the HR Support Center. This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.