In our previous post, we detailed OSHA guidelines and how to navigate EEOC and ADA laws. Now, we will discuss the framework for a quick & easy reentry plan.
Although controversial, easing stay-home restrictions will eventually happen. The key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 is in how businesses return to business as usual.
The first reentry challenge that you face as an employer is that even though we are getting back to business as usual, how we get back to business will be un-usual for awhile.
Each employer will have to address the needs of its employees and how COVID affects the workplace from the get-go. But when will that be, and who can return when?
Those are the first two questions that must be resolved when setting up your reentry plan.
When Will Be Legally Permitted to Reopen
The first, “when will be legally permitted to reopen?” is nearly impossible to answer at this point. It will be based on the edict set down by your state and city. So far, it looks like the loosening of stay-home, quarantine restrictions will not happen all at once but rather roll out in phases.
Who Can Return When
The second question, “who can return when?” will also be based on your specific situation. You may even want to reconsider your pre-COVID remote and telecommuting policies, as many of your employees may be more productive working from home.
Furlough or Rehire
If you were forced to furlough or lay off workers, decisions need to be made as to what order employees will be brought back or rehired.
Again, you alone know what is in the best interest of your particular workforce, but it is crucial that bringing employees back must be done in a non-discriminatory manner.
Do not give employees the impression that they were pushed to the back of the line because of a protected characteristic, or they may consider filing a claim against you.
Not Coming Back to Work
You may be surprised to discover that not all employees want to come back to work. Some employees may not yet feel safe to venture out or return to work while other employees will embrace returning.
Employers these concerns are legitimate, and you will need to effectively communicate with your employees to ensure the workplace will be safe upon their return.
Ensuring the Workplace is Safe
But before your employees return to the workplace, you need to take measured steps to ensure the workplace is as safe as possible.
To get started on your plan, first, answer the following questions:
- How you integrate social distancing into your workplace?
- Can you stagger work shifts an option?
- Can you downsize your operations?
- What services can you deliver remotely?
- How can you think outside the box on other exposure reducing measures?
- Can workers be cross-trained across different jobs?
- How will we handle increased rates of worker absenteeism?
- What about interruptions in supply chains or delayed deliveries?
- How can we be vigilant in ensuring that workers do not engage in harassing or discriminatory conduct towards other co-workers?
- Is there a point at which you would consider temporarily closing again, even if you were legally allowed to remain open?
- Are leadership positions covered if anyone in those positions contracts COVID and is put in quarantine or hospitalized?
Protocols to Reduce Risk
Your plan should also include protocols that will reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. The CDC recommends the following:
Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms before they start working. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
In your pre-screen, you may ask employees if they:
- Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Have had potential exposure to COVID-19
As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
Wear a Mask
The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after the last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
Disinfect and Clean Workspaces
Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
You may administer a COVID-19 test to detect the presence of the virus before allowing employees to enter the workplace.
What If an Employee Becomes Sick?
After employees have returned, what if an employee becomes sick during the day?
- Send them home immediately.
- Clean and disinfect the surfaces in their workspace.
- Compile a list of all persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and two days before symptoms. Anyone who had close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.
If you would like more recommendations, check out Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19in the workplace.
With reentry coming up, you’ve got a lot of things on your mind, worrying about how you are going to screen your workforce, visitors, and vendors shouldn’t be one of them.
That’s why we developed welloStationX. Based on technology developed and deployed at the request of the Dallas Independent School System during the 2014 Ebola infections in Dallas, welloStationX is like nothing else on the market.
Our hands-free screening system provides temperature data that helps companies and care providers reduce the spread of COVID-19.
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