3 minute read:
We already discussed that as states go through their re-opening processes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic bring their employees back to work, in addition to the normal challenges of opening their businesses up, employers need to make sure there are managing their own re-opening with a particular eye towards the safety of their workers and potential business liability.
With that in mind, this is a simple, non-comprehensive checklist for employers to use to help ensure they are covering those issues that may arise.
Preparing for Employees to Return:
- Review OSHA Guidelines and assess the risk level of your workplace
- Obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) for your employees based on OSHA, CDC and other applicable state and local Guidelines
Note: make sure the PPE selected is (1) appropriate for the risk level associated with your workplace, (2) appropriately restocked as necessary, (3) cleaned and sanitized.
- Obtain hand sanitizer and other necessary sanitation items and place throughout workplace at entry/exit and main points of employee contact or congregation, such as the breakroom.
- Prepare the physical workplace for returning employees by setting up barriers and or spacing to maintain social distancing.
- Close or social distance common areas, such as cafeterias or breakrooms.
- Draft policies to your employees based on the OSHA and CDC Guidelines for social distancing, PPE, sanitation and other COVID-19 precautions, including office visitors and meetings with third parties.
Note: make sure your policies address confined spaces such as elevators, stairwells, and hallways. These may already be addressed in buildings with a landlord who manages the common spaces.
- Distribute policies and guidelines to employees with enough time for them to ask questions prior to returning to work and consider providing training.
Determining Who is Returning:
- Determine which of your employees will be returning to work in the office
Note: guidelines currently recommend that those employees who can effectively work remotely should continue to do so.
- Create schedules that maximize employee’s ability to social distance, where possible.
- Look at employee transportation options and consider whether changes need to be made to parking, rideshare, and/or public transit options to limit employee exposure.
- Require screening of employees before scheduling them to return to work.
Note: employers may wish to consider requiring employees to take a COVID-19 test prior to returning to work, if at moderate or higher risk for exposure.
- Monitor current and evolving guidance from State and Federal Authorities.
- Have a pandemic plan in place that addresses what will happen should an employee test positive, or exhibit symptoms for COVID-19 after returning to work.
- Establish a cleaning protocol for the office workspace to minimize risk.
- Develop policies and guidelines to support social distancing including minimizing in-person meetings and limiting business travel.
Remember, in addition to the regulatory requirements and potential workers’ compensation exposure, there is also potential civil liability. It is currently unclear how each state will treat cases that seek to go beyond the “exclusive remedy” framework of the state’s workers compensation laws. Most states that allow employees to seek civil remedies beyond workers’ compensation require a showing of willful or egregious conduct on behalf of the employer. This makes having a clear plan, based on state and federal health guidance, even more important.
We’re committed to helping companies reduce risk, avoid penalties, and achieve 100% ACA compliance. For questions about the ACA contact us here.