Can I require an employee who previously tested positive for COVID-19 to submit a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to work?

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's (Cal/OSHA’s) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) contains specific return-to-work criteria as follows:

  • COVID-19 cases, regardless of vaccination status or previous infection, who do not develop COVID-19 symptoms, or whose COVID-19 symptoms are resolving, can’t return to work until:
    1. At least five days have passed from the date that COVID-19 symptoms began or, if the person does not develop COVID-19 symptoms, from the date of first positive COVID-19 test;
    2. At least 24 hours have passed since a fever has resolved without medications; and
    3. A negative COVID-19 test from a specimen collected on the fifth day or later is obtained;
  • If the employee is unable to test or the employer chooses not to require a test on the fifth day or later, or COVID-19 symptoms are not resolving in that time frame, the employee must remain out for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of the first positive COVID-19 test if asymptomatic.

For more information specifically related to the latest quarantine and isolation guidance, employers should review the following:

For more information on Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS, review the following guidance: