We know as employers, you are doing your best to protect your employees as well as your hard earned business.
But as businesses have begun to cautiously reopen, the employee lawsuits have already begun.
Our expert HR Advisors and ERISA Attorneys have complied these 7 Critical considerations to aid employers during this unprecedented time.
7 Critical Considerations for Employers Reopening Business
Your Safety Standards
Ensuring your business utilizes mandatory health screenings, space considerations, mask requirements and disinfecting protocols will be paramount to safely reopening. But thorough documentation of these considerations will be paramount to protecting your company.
Employers need to ensure they have the ability to keep people a minimum of eight feet apart. Physical barriers between employees and customers, such as Plexiglas, should be installed. Consider replacing air filters with more effective versions, such as HEPA filters. Filters should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Businesses with elevators should limit use to two people at time.
Disinfection procedures and protocols should be in place in all work environments and places where people will gather. Hand sanitizers should be readily available. Signage reminding people to wash their hands with soap and warm water for twenty seconds must be displayed. Shared equipment such as telephones, computer terminals, copy machines, door handles, and bathrooms must have special considerations to maintain cleanliness.
Health screening procedures, specifically adhering to OSHA and HIPAA requirements (to consult with HR Support, see below), for employees and customers will also be important to put in place. Anyone with symptoms such as cough, temperature elevations (above 99.8 F), or people feeling poorly, should not be allowed into settings with other people. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they should not return to work, and should maintain a self-quarantine, until they develop antibodies and are at least 21 days post symptoms. People with symptoms regardless of their testing status should not return to the workplace or to social interactions.
Reliable HR Support
If you are like many small businesses across America without an HR Department, make sure your business has a reliable source for HR support or, as a last resort, employment law.
Can employers ask employees if they have symptoms of COVID-19?
Can employers require employees who are “higher-risk” to stay home or direct them to leave the workplace once they have reported to work?
What should employers do when employees say they are experiencing otherwise undiagnosed symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19?
The answers to these questions, and the others you will run into, may surprise you! (The second answer is actually mostly no!)
To ensure your business is protected, new compliant policies must be put into place. It has become imperative to stay up to date on the latest compliance requirements and regulations, as they’ve had significant and constant updates.
The Need for Updated or Temporary Policies
As employment law changes to adapt to the current circumstances, employers must make sure the policies in place guide employees and protect from possible retaliation.
While adapting to the circumstances, many employers have discovered teleworking is a more viable option than once considered. If this is a viable option for your employees, teleworking and remote work should still be encouraged until there is little or no risk in your area.
Staggered work schedules could be utilized to ensure that proper spacing of employees is obtainable.
Liberal leave and sick time policies should be in place to ensure that people with symptoms do not come to work.
All of these considerations will require proper policy to avoid possible retaliation for favoritism, or other assumptions. If creating these policies seems daunting, consider having our Advisors create your custom policies for you.
(And don’t forget to update your handbook with these changes… or let ours update it for you.)
Updated Contingency Plans
As the world cautiously reopens, employees are relying on their employers to have a plan in place in case of another outbreak.
Now that we know about the threat of COVID-19, as well as other potential pandemics, there is no excuse not to be prepared for future outbreaks. Businesses must thoroughly evaluate their crisis management plans and ensure the lessons already learned have been re-evaluated and added into these. This will ensure any future viral outbreaks will be effectively managed – and you can be sure employees will now expect seamless outbreak management.
Effective Reopening Communication
Clear and proper communication can greatly reduce employee stress and increase trust when returning to work.
Employers reopening communications with employees, should allow for questions (which is when HR Support can really help follow regulations and requirements) and should discuss clear expectations for returning to work. Additionally, including your new policies to make sure everyone understands safety expectations and will help your employees trust your decision as their employer.
Trust and transparency are powerful tools to make people feel more comfortable returning to work.
Possible Travel Restrictions
Positions that require travel, especially to meet with clients and vendors, must be evaluated to address today’s concerns.
Employers will have to reassess which employees can travel – if any – and how traveling employees will get to and from their destinations. Only travel deemed necessary to business operations should be approved, and employees who must travel by air or train should be required to report any onset of symptoms while away from the office. This criteria should also include employees who commute using mass transit. If possible, employees who do use mass transit should be encouraged, and possibly incentivized, to use transportation that minimize contact with others.
Continued Covid-19 Education
Just because some restrictions have been lifted, does not mean we are in the clear yet. Staying up to date on the impact of Covid-19, regulations and changing compliance requirements will be imperative to avoiding employee litigation conflicts.
Immersing yourself, or your operations manager, in reliable information can help protect your company. Our company offers continuous webinars hosted by professionals in their field, from employment attorneys to Human Resource Officers. Get free access to all of our webinars here.
We know during this time businesses aren’t sure where to turn or who to trust. We get it. That’s why we offer two full weeks to check out all of our services, talk to our HR Advisors directly, take our training and decide if we’re right for you. If we’re a fit for your company, there’s no contract, no set up fees and no surprises. A simple $99 a month for everything.
While the world may never look exactly like it used to, we can continue forward and ensure that if we take necessary precautions, we can return strong with a fresh start.
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