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Employee COVID Q&A

Updated 02-12-21

Work location

How long will employees telecommute? 
The county public health order is still encouraging telecommuting whenever possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The city's telecommuting policy will remain in effect until further notice. 

What is the city doing to keep the workplace safe?
The safety and well-being of our employees continues to be our top priority. Upon return to the workplace, mandatory employee health screenings are in place at all city facilities. Public spaces and highly touched areas have regular cleaning and disinfecting schedules. Facilities has worked closely with all department directors to assess the places employees work and develop a plan for any modifications needed to comply with the latest health orders and recommended precautions.

What if my workstation is close to my colleagues?
Facilities continues to work on modifying work stations that are less than 6 feet apart. If you are concerned about your workstation proximity to others, please inform your supervisor.

Do employees need to wear face coverings?
Yes. State and county health orders require the use of face coverings. Please see the city's employee face covering policy

What type of face masks are appropriate?
The CDC has guidance on how to select, wear and clean your mask.

What’s required of the public?
Members of the public must follow the same state and county health orders, which require face coverings to be worn when entering a building and anytime physical distance of 6 feet or more cannot be maintained.

Employee illness

What if I have been diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, follow your medical provider’s instructions. Report it immediately to Human Resources to speak confidentially with an HR representative. HR will work with you to coordinate your leave of absence and discuss your benefit options.

Darrin Schwabe, 760-271-5548
Emily Guinaugh, 760-621-1222

How do I know if I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?
Exposure is defined as anyone who has been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for a combined 15 minutes over a 24 hour period, with or without a mask on.

What is a workplace exposure?
A workplace exposure happens when someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in a city building while contagious. If this happens in a building where you work, you'll get a notification via email. 

What if my co-worker is confirmed to have COVID-19?
Human Resources and Fire will assist county health officials to inform anyone known to have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person, while maintaining confidentiality of the diagnosed employee as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Exposed employees must self-quarantine for 10 days.

Why can't I know if someone in my building/department/work group has tested positive?
You will be notified if you had close contact with the individual, but you will not be told who the individual is. Due to health care privacy laws, the city cannot disclose any identifying information about employees with COVID-19 (or any other health condition).

What’s the city’s protocol on reporting cases?
The city follows a consistent protocol any time there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in our workplace. This helps ensure we maintain a safe environment for employees while protecting employee privacy. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If someone in your workplace tests positive for COVID-19, you will receive an email memo from the deputy city manager who oversees your department.
  • If you are believed to have been in close contact with the person who tested positive, you will be contacted individually.
  • All parts of city facilities where a person with COVID-19 worked are thoroughly cleaned according to CDC standards.

What do I do if I have been exposed to a confirmed positive person for a combined 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, with or without a mask on?
Do not return to work. Contact your supervisor and Human Resources immediately to determine when your appropriate return date will be.

What is an employees’ pay status after being quarantined or isolated by a federal, state or local, or health care provider advisement or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis?
If telecommuting is not an option, employees will need to use their available accruals.  Human Resources will send an email to employees with their accrual balances.

If sent home, when can the employee return to work?
If sent home due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the employee can return to work after self-isolating for 10 days since symptoms first appeared, going 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and once all COVID-19 symptoms have improved (cough, shortness of breath, etc.). The return to work should be coordinated with Human Resources before taking effect.

If sent home due to exposure to a COVID-19 positive person, the employee can return to work after self-quarantining for 10 days since exposure with no symptoms.  If an employee lives with a COVID-19 positive person and has not tested positive themselves, the employee can return to work after self-quarantining for 20 days from when the positive person tested. Please contact Human Resources to discuss each situation. The return to work should be coordinated with Human Resources before taking effect.

Can a supervisor ask an employee to leave work and go home if exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19? 
Employees will be required to do a self-screening health check and should not enter a city facility if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If an employee does enter, a supervisor can ask them to leave.

If I am a supervisor, am I required to send a sick employee home?
Yes, the supervisor must immediately send the employee home.

Can a supervisor ask the employee to leave work and go home if the employee is exhibiting no symptoms but has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
Yes, with HR’s guidance. If there is reason to believe that the employee has been exposed to a person with COVID-19, the supervisor may place the employee on sick leave in order for the employee to seek a diagnosis. 


How will the city ensure employee privacy?
Strict restrictions are in place to protect employee privacy. The city complies with all laws and regulations about how health information is handled, and we have our own internal policies and protocols as well. The city will only release the total number of employees with COVID-19, not any identifying information about the employees, such as department, role, title, etc.


What benefits am I eligible for?
City employees have access to a variety of benefits, depending on several factors. Learn about COVID-19 benefits.


What if I need a workplace accommodation?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employer has a duty to engage in the interactive process once the need for an accommodation arises, either by the employee’s request or by the employer’s knowledge of the employee’s disability.

The interactive process is a collaborative effort that brings the employee, the supervisor and human resources together to perform/address the following:

  • Review the employee's physical restrictions (as determined by a medical provider)
  • Analyze the essential job functions
  • Identify which essential functions the employee can/cannot perform due to the medical condition
  • Identify possible accommodation(s)
  • Continually meet to consider the success of the accommodation(s), discuss changes to physical restrictions, and/or accommodation adjustments

The City of Carlsbad is committed to ensuring a safe and productive work environment, please contact Human Resources for more information or guidance related to the interactive process and reasonable accommodation.

Child care

Does the city provide recommendations for child care?
The city understands the extra challenges faced by working parents during this time. The city cannot recommend a specific provider although the following website may be helpful: covid19ca.gov/childcare

City staff has put together a map outlining open child care locations in Carlsbad that are currently accepting children or have an active waiting list.

If you have concerns about child care needs, please work with your supervisor to determine the best options or contact HR for available leave options.

Essential functions

What are the essential functions within the city?
Directors, managers and supervisors have determined which city functions are essential based on state and federal guidance and our mission of protecting the safety and welfare of our community.

How do I know if my role supports one of these essential functions?
If you support one of these functions, your supervisor will determine whether you need to be at your physical work location, reassigned to a different work location and work duties or the Emergency Operations Center, or work from home. Your supervisor will determine shift schedules, which could differ from your normal work hours.

Employee travel

What should I do if I have traveled to a high-risk area in the past two weeks?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traveling to high-risk areas is not advised. Notify your supervisor immediately and contact HR to coordinate when and how to return to work, and whether telecommuting or leave options are available (self-quarantine may be necessary). 

For further information on travel considerations, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 travel web page.

Helpful terms

The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The Americans with Disabilities Act is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life. Title II relates to Governmental organizations.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or sometimes referred to as HIPAA, is a federal law that sets a national standard to protect medical records and other personal health information. The rule defines "protected health information" as health information that: 1. Identifies an individual and 2. is maintained or exchanged electronically or in hard copy.

More information

Please check the city's public COVID-19 webpage for general updates and additional information. This is also a good place to refer members of the public who have questions.