Study shows one-third of employees withhold COVID-19 diagnoses from workplace

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — More than one year since the first strains of COVID-19 hit the U.S., many businesses are still struggling with how to properly protect their employees.

Go.Verizon.com, a branch of Verizon, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults who had COVID-19. Their study found that nearly one-third of survey respondents didn’t alert their employer when they tested positive.

“Now we have multiple states loosening restrictions, we have several new strains of the virus within the United States,” Go.Verizon.com’s Annie Eyre said. “Our team thought it was important to be transparent about safety in public spaces and the workplace right now.”

Out of the respondents who didn’t tell their employer about their COVID-19 exposure, 33% of respondents didn’t tell because they didn’t consider it a big deal, 26% of respondents didn’t think their employer would think it was an issue and 17% feared losing their job.

“A major trend that we’re seeing from our survey is that there’s a lack of clear guidelines in most workplaces. The top answer for why respondents kept diagnoses a secret from their employers was simply because they didn’t think it was a big deal,” Eyre said.

“So obviously, there’s a gap in communication there. The most important responsibility an employer has right now is to make sure employees know what to do when they’ve tested positive,” she added.

Twelve percent of respondents who didn’t alert their employer when they had COVID-19 symptoms work in information technology, 11% of respondents work in health care and 11% work in education.

“I think it’s important to note that everyone’s situation is different,” Eyre said. “We did have a few respondents where they know that missing work means missing a paycheck.”

Eyre says in order for employees to feel safe returning to the office, it’s in the staff’s best interest to be upfront about positive COVID-19 cases in order to keep everyone safe.

“It’s incredibly important to be honest about diagnoses and exposures,” Eyre said. “Even if it doesn’t feel important to you, it could end up saving somebody’s life especially if you work in person. Wear a mask, or better yet stay at home if you’ve tested positive.”

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