Under class B, employees diagnosed with COVID-19 should be managed under the company policy for sick leave.
Companies can determine work from home according to the individual's symptoms. Though it is essential to establish policies to manage employees' sick periods and work resumption efficiently. With the downgrade companies should transit from epidemic prevention to standard sick leave management.
Below, we outline what companies should know about adopting policy changes in the workplace and managing employees with COVID-19 under Class B.
From December 26, 2022, the National Health Commission issued Announcement No. 7 of 2022 (hereinafter referred to as "Announcement No. 7"), reclassified novel coronavirus pneumonia to novel coronavirus infection (hereinafter referred to as "COVID-19").
From January 8, 2023, the measures for the prevention and control of Class A infectious diseases under the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases ("PTID Law") against COVID-19 infection were lifted.
The Comprehensive Group of Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council for COVID-19 issued the Notice on Printing and Distributing the Overall Plan of "Class B and Class B Management" for novel coronavirus Infections (Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism No. 114 ) (hereinafter referred to as the "Notice"). Under the Notice, "Class B and Class B control" will be implemented for novel coronavirus infection, and COVID-19 from January 8, 2023.
In a nutshell, the changes shall cease the following:
- isolation of infected people;
- close contacts;
- and the determination of high and low-risk areas.
In its place, the detection strategy of "willing to complete the inspection" will be implemented. Therefore, managing employees with COVID-19 should be adjusted to class B.
The company shall apply the sick leave procedure for any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 and requests sick leave. And the employee will be paid according to the sick leave salary standard.
For a diagnosed employee before January 8, 2023, and isolated, the enterprise shall normally pay wages during such period. For diagnosis after the 8, 2023 (including January 8), and sick leave is requested, the company sick leave should be applied. The employee will be paid according to the sick leave salary standard. Although, it is crucial to note for companies that normal salary should be paid for employees working from home.
Generally, employees who request sick leave shall submit a sick leave certificate issued by the hospital to the company. If an employee cannot obtain a medical institution-issued diagnosis certificate under limited medical resources, the certificate can be waived at its own discretion.
Specifically, the "Classification and Treatment of Patients" allows home quarantine for asymptomatic infected individuals and mild cases with no severe underlying diseases. Therefore, companies should be managing employees with COVID-19 flexibly. Namely, those with asymptomatic and mild symptoms may take sick leave. Under such cases, employees can provide antigen test results or nucleic acid test certificates. And the company should approve the sick leave according to the actual situation.
Under normal medical resources, companies can resume normal sick leave procedures. Therefore, employees shall provide diagnostic certificates and sick leave recommendations from medical institutions. If an employee provides false proof, the company shall handle it in accordance with its internal policy rules.
Defining Home Quarantine Period
Determining the period of home quarantine could be difficult to navigate for companies. Employers can reasonably set such period or treatment period according to the specific symptoms, and the conditions for work resumption.
No specific policy has been adopted for home quarantine or treatment period for COVID-19 infection under class B. Although, companies may refer to the following measures:
- Notice on Further Optimizing the Implementation of the Prevention and Control Measures for the COVID-19 (Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism ZZF  No. 113)
- Local policy opinions on the prevention and control of the epidemic
For example, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health allows companies in Beijing to adopt a 7 days home quarantine without antipyretics. If the fever subsides for more than 24 hours, and other symptoms improve, the employee could return to work. If the fever symptoms continue, he/she should return to work after the fever symptoms subsides for more than 24 hours. And other symptoms have improved. Companies may also request employees return to work after symptoms disappear and negative antigen tests.
Managing the Resumption of Work
After recovery, individuals may fear another infection and refuse to return to work. In such cases, the company can require the individual to return or adopt remote work for non-essential employees based on actual situations. If remote work cannot be arranged, the individual may apply for leave accordingly to personal needs. For example, annual leave, compensatory leave, or personal leave could be utilised.
Any employees who refuse to return to work without justifiable reasons and leave is not granted shall be handled according to internal policy rules.
For employees who identify as close contacts of family members or cohabitants infected with COVID-19, there is no legal obligation to isolate close contacts. Under the "Class B and Class B management", close contacts will not be identified, and isolation measures will not be implemented. Therefore, employees living with infected individuals can work normally. Although, the company may adopt the following policies:
- If the employee is not infected, normal work should continue;
- If the employee need to care for family members or cohabitants, personal leave should be applied according to the enterprise's policies. Alternatively, the enterprise can negotiate with employees to flexibly arrange annual leave, compensatory leave, etc;
- Where the COVID-19 is highly contagious and other employees are likely to be infected, the health status of cohabitants and employee can be required. After evaluation, the company should determine whether to arrange remote work for observation according to their physical conditions. Once the individual's situation stabilises, the company can require employees to resume work.
Under the Class B and Class B management", employment termination provisions in the Mingdian  No. 5 document of the Human Resources and Social Security Department no longer apply. Companies should refer to the Labour Contract Law for further guidance.
With the adoption of "Class B Class B management", companies should have realigned employee policies. The Human Resources and Social Security Department may roll out further policy opinions to adapt to the actual situation. As a result, companies should monitor policy changes and adjust according to reduce labour liabilities.
Originally published 6 June 2023
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.