PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As coronavirus cases rise, so does a moral and economic dilemma.
Call it “COVID Honesty”.
When do you reveal the circumstances that you know might result in quarantine.
Many employers now require the answering of an entry permission form before an employee comes to work.
Zach Bombatch is a board member of the Southwestern Pa. Human Resources Organization and a labor law attorney. He says employers depend on employees being honest, so they can decide if they should be allowed in the workplace.
“With respect to symptoms or exposure I think a lot of employers are looking to their employees to let them know, and let the employer, make that decision,” he said. “There’s no what we call bright-line test meaning a definitive yes or no when an employee should tell the employer about symptoms or exposures.”
If you are not honest do you risk your job?
“Well there’s certainly that risk I mean that there would be representation that the employer is relying upon and employers rightfully expect honesty and as much disclosure as possible,” he explained. “I don’t think that anyone would necessarily get fired automatically for that but it really would not be a good scenario for anyone involved.”
As for compensation if you are told to stay home. Bombatch says, “So we saw that come out earlier this year from Congress called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. And that’s a fact specific question about whether or not an employee who is requested or required to quarantine to stay home receives paid leave if they receive some sort of partial paid leave or whether or not they receive leaves at all.”
Which is an important point to consider if you are planning to go out of state for the holidays.
Bombatch says, “There’s certainly a potential that they will be required to quarantine. And then we’ll have to get into that next level of determining whether or not that quarantine results in a paid or unpaid leave.” He suggest you have a conversation with your employer in advance about where you are going and what will be expected when you return.”
The bottom line he says avoid surprises with your employer.
Beyond traveling out of state when does your situation at home require you to fess up at work?
WATCH: Cold vs. COVID, Knowing The Symptoms
Dr. Jennifer Preiss at Allegheny Health Network says you first need to understand the real symptoms of COVID-19.
“We worry about fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches,” she explained. “There are some GI-associated symptoms that are more problematic in older populations. The first couple of symptoms I mentioned are more consistent with the flu. So I think discerning between influenza, the normal seasonal flu, and covid is going to be the hardest thing that we’re going to have to be dealing with.”
Dr. Preiss says safety should be the priority.
“I believe that if you have a fever, cough, and muscle aches, you need to be very upfront and very candid with yourself, your doctor to people that you live with the people that you have contact with every day. You probably need to go ahead and quarantine until you’ve had a COVID test, and that COVID test is negative.
That does not mean to overreact if your child develops the sniffles.
“Runny nose, even a stuffy nose, and a tiny bit of cough is not something that I’m going to be alarmed about,” said Dr. Preiss.
Dr. Preiss understands some people might be hesitant to be forthright out of concern they will be told to stay home.
“I understand that everyone needs to work everyone needs to support themselves and their family, but I think as a society, and what is ethically correct,” she said. “And what is going to ultimately help us combat this pandemic is being respectful for the people that are surrounding you.”
There is help as close as your phone if you have doubts about whether to report your situation to your employer.
You can call your own doctor or the PA COVID Hotline at 1-877-PA-Health.