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Impact of the CDC’s Updated COVID-19 Isolation Recommendations on the Workplace 

In a significant development, on March 1, 2024, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that individuals with COVID-19 no longer need to isolate once they have been fever-free for 24 hours. This adjustment brings the CDC’s recommendations for COVID-19 in line with its guidance for other respiratory infections, such as influenza and RSV, and is expected to have wide-ranging implications for the workplace. The updated guidance is available here

While individuals are no longer required to isolate, the CDC still advises people to stay home when they are sick, undergo testing, and seek treatment to reduce the risk of severe illness. It is important to note that the new guidance does not apply to healthcare settings, and accommodations required under federal civil rights laws supersede this guidance, as stated on the CDC’s website. 

Next Steps for Employers 

Employers must strike a balance between maintaining workplace productivity and ensuring the health and safety of their employees. Although shortening isolation periods may decrease short-term disruptions, it is crucial to consider the potential long-term consequences of increased workplace transmission. Employers should continue to implement policies that encourage employees to stay home when they are ill. 

Despite the updated CDC guidance, employers need to remain in compliance with state and local leave laws, accommodation considerations, and any specific policy requirements related to COVID-19-positive cases. For instance, New York’s COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law is currently undergoing review in the state’s budget legislation, with a proposed sunset date of July 31, 2024. However, until the budget bill is passed, employers should continue following the law. It is worth noting that the state budget must be approved by April 1, so updates are expected soon.  

At the time of this post, New York also has not updated its COVID-19 written guidance on quarantine and isolation to align with the CDC’s guidance. It is unclear if and when the state intends to do so. HR Works will monitor this topic and provide timely updates as more information becomes available.  

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.