Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace

Protecting your employees' health and safety during a pandemic is essential. Learn more about responding to suspected and actual cases of COVID-19 in your workplace, providing support to employees, and planning a safe return to work.

Get additional COVID-19 guidance for workplaces.

Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace Infographic and its text description

Infographic: Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace

Description: Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace

Ask employees to stay home or go home if they have:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 (even if mild).
  • Tested positive or are awaiting results from a laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
  • Tested positive from a rapid test and are arranging for a PCR test.
  • Been identified by a local public health authority as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
  • Completed travel outside of Canada within the last 14 days and are required to self-isolate or quarantine.
  • Travelled to another province or territory that has requirements to self-isolate or quarantine.

If an employee shows symptoms at work:

  • Call 911 if they need immediate medical attention (e.g., difficulty breathing).
  • Send them home immediately, preferably not by public transportation.
    • If they cannot leave immediately isolate them in a designated space (e.g., first aid room).
  • Make sure they wear a medical mask, or a well constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask if unavailable.
  • Advise them to contact their health care provider and local public health authority and follow their instructions.
  • Confirm their contact information.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and areas they may have touched.

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Have procedures for contacting local public health authorities.
  • You may need to notify your jurisdictional health and safety regulator and workers’ compensation board if the case is work-related.
  • Contact the health and safety committee or representative, and the employee’s union, if applicable.
  • Help with contact tracing by the local public health authority if requested. Provide information about who may have been in contact with the employee.

Maintain confidentiality

  • Do not share any personal information or medical diagnosis.
  • Provide only the necessary information to local and provincial/territorial authorities.
  • Determine when to ask for medical documentation.
  • An employee may not need to provide a medical note when taking a leave related to COVID-19.

Support employees with COVID-19

  • Let employees know about available company and government supports.
  • Allow sick workers to stay home. Make sure your policies comply with the minimum requirements of the employment standards legislation in your jurisdiction.
  • Provide mental health resources, including information on coping with stigma.

Plan for a return to work

  • Make sure any required isolation or quarantine is completed and any other public health requirements are met.
  • Plan for alternate work arrangements, such as working from home.
  • Follow the guidance provided by the professionals involved in each case:
    • Employee’s health care provider
    • Local public health authority
    • Workers’ compensation board
    • Local government health and safety agency
  • Work together to identify any accommodation needs for a safe return to work.
  • Review and improve health and safety measures as needed.
For further information on COVID-19, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada

Document last updated on: 2021-06-15