Borton Petrini

What Should Employers Do If An Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19


Now that industries are reopened after COVID-19 closures, employers are faced with the daunting question of “what do I do if an employee tests positive?”

On June 16, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued a checklist for employers if they are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.  The complete checklist can be found at and should be reviewed by all California employers.

Here are some key takeaways from CDPH’s checklist:

  • A workplace infection prevention coordinator should be appointed by the employer to implement the COVID-19 prevention procedure and to manage any COVID-19 related issues.
  • Employees should be instructed to stay at home and seek medical attention if they are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms.
  • Employees should be instructed to inform their employer if they have tested positive for COVID-19, been exposed to someone who has tested positive and/or if they have been experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms.
  • Employees must be educated regarding COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (social distancing, hand washing, masks, etc.).
  • Perform more frequent cleaning and disinfection of the workplace. If an employee has tested positive, arrange for a deep cleaning of the facility to prevent any further exposure.
  • If someone has COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19, you must keep their confidentiality private.  When you tell your employees of possible exposure, you should not identify the name of the other employee.  Do not say “Mary tested positive for COVID-19,” instead say “a co-worker has tested positive for COVID-19.”
  • If there is a suspected outbreak in the workplace, a report must be made to the local health department.
  • If someone tests positive, the following should be completed:
    • If possible, all employees should be tested.
    • If testing all employees is not available, then other measures of controlling the outbreak must be considered in collaboration with the local health. department.  For example, you should determine which employees work the closest with the employee that tested positive, and request that they be tested.
  • Employers must check with their local health department and government to determine if any further guidance and/or regulations have been issued for their area.

Employers in need of legal advice and guidance as to how to comply with the current COVID-19 regulations should contact their local Borton Petrini, LLP office to speak to an attorney in their area.


Sarah A. Ornelas is a Partner with the firm Borton Petrini, LLP.  She is based out of the firm’s Modesto office, and represents employers throughout the Central Valley.



Legal Disclaimer: Please be informed that legislation and laws are rapidly developing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Therefore, the legal analysis that is being provided is based on the analysis of the current legislation and current agency guidance, as it stands at this moment.  Additional legislation and/or changes to current legislation may impact the information being given herein.  This article is designed for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Skip to content