26 enero 2022

Epidemiological exposure and the return to in-person work. Published on Cronista.com

This is the recommendation by the Department of Labor for this new surge in cases: (…) “Considering the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the last couple of weeks in most districts of the country, and given the advance in the vaccination campaign and the virus dynamics, in particular in relation to those who have recovered from the infection, the Department of Health now gives new guidance for employees to return to work”.

Article by Julián A. de Diego published on Cronista.com on January 25, 2022

As a matter of fact, Resolution No. 27/2022 by the Department of Labor proposes return to in-person work rules in line with the regulations issued as recommendations by Carla Vizzotti, Head of the Department of Health.

The very same rule contains the suggestion that those employees who have not been infected or have not developed any symptoms or have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19 and who are fully vaccinated should return to in-person work as required.

The Department of Health and the Department of Labor are now issuing rules under the new category of «recommendations» at this point in the pandemic where there are doubtful, fraudulent or unfounded cases.

The vaccination campaign is advancing with the aim of becoming mandatory in the short run without encountering strong resistance, like in Austria and Italy, and soon in Germany, England, Switzerland and Sweden, Finland and Norway, too.

The new surge in cases has led the Executive to analyze mandatory vaccination to commute and go to in-person work, namely:

WORKERS WITH COVID-19 WHO HAVE NOT BEEN HOSPITALIZED: They can return to work

1. On Day 10 after symptom onset (those unvaccinated or with just one dose);

2. On Day 10 after diagnosis for asymptomatic people;

FULLY VACCINATED WORKERS (with 2 shots or booster dose)

  • On Day 7 after symptom onset (or diagnosis for asymptomatic people), following THREE (3) days of special precaution (observing all preventive measures, such masking, social distancing, frequent hand-washing)

WORKERS WITH ASYMPTOMATIC CLOSE CONTACTS: They should take all preventive measures (masking, adequate ventilation, social distancing) and may return to work and are not required to show a negative test result:

  • For asymptomatic close contacts who are unvaccinated or are not fully vaccinated (more than FIVE -5- months have passed after their last shot) on Day 10 after their last contact with the confirmed case;
  • For asymptomatic close contacts who are fully vaccinated (single- dose vaccine, second dose in a 2-dose series or booster dose, as appropriate and less than FIVE -5- months after last shot) or who have had COVID-19 in the last NINETY (90) days: They can return to their workplace, following authorities’ recommendations, taking all preventive measures (MANDATORY masking and adequate cross- ventilation), and getting tested on Day 3 and Day 5 as suggested and complete a symptom self-check every day.
  • For asymptomatic close contacts who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster dose more than fourteen (14) days after their last shot: They can return to their workplace, following authorities’  recommendations, taking all preventive measures (mandatory masking and adequate cross-ventilation) and complete a symptom self-check every day.

The Recommendations that are still issued by the Ministries, like the one under analysis here, are not mandatory and are intended to supplement health care best practices, especially for prevention. That is why employers may add other preventive measures to protect employees’ life, health and psychological and physical integrity.

Compliance with prevention measures is also a part of the duties under the employment contract and the employment relationship, and therefore, any breach or noncompliance, especially those that may have caused or cause damage to employees themselves or any third parties, may lead to disciplinary actions, furlough, and even termination for fair cause for intentional breach of contract, law, collective bargaining agreement.

This complex scenario, the number of cases as a result of large gatherings and parties, mass events, the holiday season and the rapid spread of the Delta, Omicron and Deltacron variants, are forcing us to go back to basics, promoting full vaccination and booster doses, and taking any preventive measures that are viable and possible.

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