Wow, can you believe that many of us have been working from home for 4 months! Some like it and some hate it, but regardless of what you think of working from home, businesses are reopening all across the country. Many employees are fearful and with an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past couple of weeks, rightfully so. So how should employers reopen? What precautions should they take? What if employees refuse to return to work? These questions present employee relations issues in addition to a myriad of legal questions.
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From an employee relations perspective, employers need to make sure employees feel like the employers care about them, specifically that the employer is watching out for their safety. To help employers with doing this, OSHA form 3990, COVID-19 guidelines and the CDC recommendations should be followed. Legally, an employer is required to put in environmental and operational controls, including rating each job from low risk to high risk. Depending on the level of risk, employers must then provide the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and have proper protocols for addressing sick employees, or those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Contracting COVID-19 from the workplace may very well result in valid claims of Workers Comp, depending on the state where the business is located.
What about employees who refuse to come to work? This is a major concern for many employers, with whom Kelly and I have contact. Depending on the reason for the refusal, an employer may have a duty to accommodate. More importantly, employers should consider what they can do differently to accommodate employee’s needs, personal or otherwise, to create a more content, engaged and productive workplace.
Please join us on this week’s Survive HR podcast, as our friends from the law firm of Haynsworth, Sinkler, Boyd, Chris Gantt-Sorenson and Perry MacLennan address these and other issues related to safely and legally getting employees back to work following the COVID-19 quarantine. Thanks again for listening to our show! We appreciate you all more than you will ever know.