CDC no longer recommends that employers require negative test results before returning to work if an employee has already completed their isolation period.
CDC now advises that individuals without critical illnesses can return to work and resume other routine activities if they meet ALL of the following three criteria:
- At least 10 days have passed since the onset of COVID-19 symptoms (or 10 days have passed since their initial positive test date if they never experienced any symptoms).
- They have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.).
- All other symptoms related to COVID-19 continue to improve.
Individuals with severe critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised may need to isolate for 20 or more days, which can be determined by a clinician. Additional information from CDC can be found here.
CT Department of Public Health recommends businesses follow CDC guidance and to remain alert for any changes. Not requiring negative tests from employees before returning to work relieves employees from the undue burden of getting tested multiple times and, more importantly, allows them to get back to work sooner. In addition, it is possible for individuals to continue to test positive for COVID-19 after completing their isolation period, even though they are no longer infectious.
Common Employee Questions
1. What should I do if I tested positive and my employer demands a negative test result before letting me return to work?
Employers may have different requirements and may even require the testing of asymptomatic individuals.
If there is a Human Resources department where your work, you may want to confirm your employer’s requests are consistent with HR policies. Each situation may be different and if you feel you are being discriminated against you may call the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities at (860) 541-3400.
2. What are the state laws/policies about what an employer can require before allowing me to return to work after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result?Employers may be able to screen you by requiring testing before allowing you to return to work in-person. If your employer declines to let you return to work after your quarantine period, you could be eligible for separation benefits.
3. What should I do if my employer still won't let me return to work after educating them about the DOL laws/policies?CT DOL does not have jurisdiction over this issue, and currently employers are not required by law to allow employees to return to work after their quarantine. To file unemployment through DOL, please visit DOL Unemployment Benefits (ct.gov) or call 1-800-956-3294.
4. How can I file a complaint against my employer?This depends on the type of complaint you wish to file. If you feel you are being discriminated against, you may call the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities at (860) 541-3400. Some organizations have internal mechanisms for reporting complaints through human resources, and you may also wish to consult with your union representative if applicable.
5. I’ve been fired due to my COVID status. What are my options?
You may wish to file for unemployment benefits and a determination will be made on your eligibility. To file unemployment please visit DOL Unemployment Benefits (ct.gov) or call 1-800-956-3294. You may also want to contact your human resource department or union if you have concerns or questions about your company policies.
Depending on your situation, there are a several programs for which you may want to apply to determine your eligibility; please visit Financial Assistance (ct.gov) and DSS Response to COVID-19 (ct.gov) to find out more!
6. Can I be fired from my job if I don’t get a negative test result after testing two times?Please see the above answer.
Employers may decide not to allow an employee to return to work for various reasons. To file unemployment please visit DOL Unemployment Benefits (ct.gov) or call 1-800-956-3294.
7. If I’ve been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and I’ve been exposed someone with COVID-19, do I need to stay home from work to quarantine?The CDC advises that fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as their risk of infection is low. Someone who is fully vaccinated is 14 days or more past their last dose of a complete COVID-19 vaccination regimen.
Fully vaccinated people who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated, and inform their health care provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.
8. Where can I find legal aid or representation COVID-19 related employment issues?
We are unable to provide recommendations about hiring legal representation. If you feel you are being discriminated against based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or other protected classes, you may wish to call the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities at (860) 541-3400.
Related CDC Links
Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC
Interim Guidance on Duration of Isolation and Precautions for Adults with COVID-19 | CDC
Updated Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations in Response to COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC