Employers need to consider new guidelines regarding public health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently enacted federal regulations may affect how your company handles employee leave time, so it’s important to ensure that your human resources department is apprised of these changes and handles individual requests. In addition, state and municipal guidelines have been created in order to promote public safety, so you need to examine whether your procedures are consistent with local directives and whether you’re doing everything that you can to keep your workforce safe.
Review Your Leave Policies
One of the most key aspects of keeping your staff safe is encouraging people to take time off of work when they need to. Under no circumstances should somebody be in a position of having to come to work when they may have the virus for fear of losing a position. You could inadvertently put your entire workforce at risk if people who have been exposed to the virus or are symptomatic must continue coming into work. Consequently, you may need to update your current policies about time-off. As a part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act enacted on April 1, 2020, certain employers with fewer than 500 employees have been required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need it for reasons related to COVID-19. These reasons may include exposure to someone who has the virus and being medically directed to self-quarantine or experiencing symptoms and seeking treatment. In addition, an employer may be required to provide leave if an employee’s children must stay home during the day because their school has been temporarily closed. As every individual employee’s circumstances may be unique and it’s the first time that your company is fielding these types of requests for leave, you may need to get some authoritative guidance on how to handle a situation or seek legal advice.
Get Counsel When Needed
If you’re concerned about a matter relating to compliance or a current or former employee has brought a claim against you, you should work with legal counsel who has specialized experience in employment law. In a case that involves matters of federal law, it’s advisable to consider working with a lawyer who has previously represented employers in cases concerning compliance with federal mandates. Getting representation from a nationwide practice such as the firm of Dr. Nick Oberheiden can help assure that your counsel will be able to represent you in any jurisdiction.
Provide a Safe Working Environment
If your state or municipality has issued orders about how to maintain proper social distancing, you need to bring your company’s working environment into compliance. It’s particularly important to be vigilant about safety protocols if you manage a staff that interacts directly with the general public. Not only do you have to ensure the safety of the individuals who come onto the premises, you have to safeguard personnel who have a higher risk of exposure to the virus. Safety measures may include changing the layout of your operations to create six feet of distance between people and requiring that everyone wear a mask without any exceptions.
All employers must carefully revise their policies and procedures in order to respond to the widespread health and safety concerns that have been created by the COVID-19 pandemic. When your employees know that you’re taking active measures to protect them, they’ll feel safer about coming into work and better able to stay focused and productive. Follow local guidelines, familiarize yourself with nationwide mandates, and get expert help when you need it to help keep your personnel healthy and safe.