An Employer’s Guide to Navigating Through the COVID-19 Crisis: Compliance Obligations and Safety Protocols to Consider
COVID-19 is a new disease. It’s hard for employers to know what to do or what they are expected to do as the situation changes daily. State law may affect an employer’s obligations. However even in currently unaffected states, employees expect employers to do what they can to keep them safe and be able to answer “what if.”
With all types of risk assessment and emergency planning the best first line of defense is elimination of hazard. So today is the day for making a plan and getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 crisis because elimination of hazard can’t be accomplished in hindsight.
The second most effective way of eliminating risk is substitution, meaning to substitute the source of the hazard by something else. Such as a bank could substitute waiting on customers in person by better utilizing drive-up windows or remote teller stations, thereby providing a way to put social distance and physical barriers between customers and employees.
There are also many other questions to be considered, such as what are an employer’s compliance obligations, and how leave, benefit and sick policies apply and if they should be temporarily changed and how.
WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEND
Considering Coronavirus and the workplace, today is the day to map out your own particular plan to deal with this emerging issue. No employer wants to fail their employees and no business wants to be known as the first in their state for an outbreak of a new disease.
• How OSHA safety guidelines apply
• Does the ADA apply and in what respects
• How the FMLA guidelines for employers apply to absences for employees and family members
• Wage and hour considerations
• Applying safety protocols and systems to your workplace to minimize or eliminate exposure to current health hazards
• Using engineering and administrative controls to make safer, jobs that have high people contact
• The basics of a work at home program, even if it’s temporary
• Using remote work considerations from inside an office to use social distancing to lower risk
• Administering COVID-19 leave
• Strengthening relaxing sick leave programs parameters on a temporary basis
• Relaxing sick leave discipline parameters on a temporary basis
• Can you make a sick employee go home and stay home?
• Return to work considerations
• What to do with employees who have to travel
• Making good hygiene part of your group norms
• Who pays the bills? How less robust insurance plans put employees and customers at risk. What an employer can do
Employers and employees are both worried about the emerging Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19.) Unaffected states are expected to have cases and many (currently) unaffected states are nonetheless presently high on the CDC’s list for influenza outbreak. The takeaway is employers know if not today, then someday soon, they will be dealing with serious infectious respiratory illnesses in some capacity that will affect their business, customers and employees. Employees expect employers to have answers for all the “what ifs” that accompany this new situation.
WHO WILL BENEFIT
• Front line managers
• Department or branch managers
• Management positions
• Small business owners
Teri Morning, MBA, MS, SHRM-SCP, is President of Hindsight Human Resources, LLC. and specializes in solving company “people problems.
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