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Preparing for Employees’ Return to Work

June 10, 2020

Michigan was one of only a few states to extend their stay-at-home order past the nationwide recommendation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, as the state prepares to re-open and businesses must prepare their employees for return to work. Some best practices and policies to consider include offering or extending remote work arrangements, workplace safety and health, and policies regarding sick and leave. Attention to these issues can help prevent lawsuits and promote employee health.

Flexible Work Schedules

There are alternative, flexible work schedules for preventing employee exposure, promoting preventative health measures, and prioritizing health best practices. One way is to stagger start times of employees. For those with longer commutes, perhaps adjusting their schedules can alleviate both the commute and the flow of office traffic. Another flexible work arrangement is to allow employees who have worked remote, have the capability to work remote, and good recommendation from their managers to continue working remote should be allowed to work remote. For example, many marketing and communications and IT roles are capable of working remote and perhaps more accustomed to working from home. Telework is still recommended for businesses who are capable of implementing it.

Health and Safety Best Practices for the Workplace

When implementing new or modified health and safety best practices for the workplace, it is imperative that such policies and practices are promptly and clearly communicated companywide. Having HR and/or legal teams on standby to answer any questions or concerns employees may have regarding new or modified policies and practices would be in the best interest of your business. This allows any issues or questions to be addressed in real time, as well as streamline modifications to policies and procedures if necessary.

Physical distancing and face masks. Following public health agency recommendations, encouraging employees to abide by physical distance recommendations can help reduce the spread of illness. Incorporating the use of face masks is also greatly recommended to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Be sure to outline specific guidelines for use of face masks, such as when they are expected to be worn, when they are permitted to be removed, and standard requirements for adequate masks (i.e., individuals who have made their own, breathability requirements, etc.).

Temperature screenings. Many businesses are implementing temperature screenings. Upon arrival, employees’ temperatures are checked for any spikes or fever – a symptom of COVID-19. Temperature screenings should be conducted by authorized staff and any medical documentation should be kept confidential and stored in a secure place, separate from personnel files.

Cleaning and sanitation. Proper handwashing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces such as computer keyboards, phones, door handles, and common areas, and providing adequate cleaning and sanitation supplies is paramount to maintaining a safe work environment.

Policies for Sick and Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided federal requirements regarding sick, emergency, and leave policies due to COVID-19. Many businesses have already modified their policies and procedures to encompass the new regulations. However, there are still loopholes for claims regarding workplace safety, working remotely, refusing to return to work, and other employment practices issues. To ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations, companies should consult with licensed legal counsel. This can also help address any legal issues in real time.

As the nation works to re-open the economy and return to business, businesses will inevitably face a new “normal” in their day-to-day operations. AccessPoint can assist you in re-opening business and recovering your business. We have experts across HR, payroll, employee benefits, workers’ compensation, and risk management and safety to streamline your business efficiencies as you refocus on strengthening your business. Contact AccessPoint today where we can discuss any return-to-work policies and procedures you may have.