As the restrictions begin to lift and governments are allowing businesses to reopen, you may be wondering what new changes are in store for you as an employer. Many new social interaction behaviors are being implemented, which you will have to put in place at your workplace.
When you require your employees to return to work, their lives are in your hands. There are changes you will have to make to keep your employees, customers, and you safe.
There are three main areas to focus on to protect those involved in your business:
- Screening employees and visitors who come into the workplace
- Social distancing
- Cleaning and sanitizing
Require Safe-Distancing and Masks
The ‘safe distancing’ will be essential to put in place. Your employees will not be returning to the same workplace they left, and you will have to outline how ‘safe distancing’ will be implemented in your business. Depending on how your work stations are set up will determine how you put 6 feet between employees.
Some strategies you may be able to use in you workplace include:
- Continue to allow as many employees as possible to continue remote work
- Limit events, meetings, and social gatherings
- Restrict non-employee visitors from entering the workplace
- Increase the spaces between cubicles, workstations or desks
- Stagger rest breaks and lunches
- Install shields or partitions between employees and customers or each other
- Close off any common spaces that were once used for employees to congregate
Masks should be worn. Masks should be provided by the employer.
Provide Support for Employees
Since the onset of this pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has provided for paid sick leave and family leave benefits for most employees impacted by COVID-19..
Some of your employees may have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and due to the shutdowns, they were not able to say goodbye. Millions of Americans are going to experience complicated grief due to this virus. You may want to consider offering mental health services to keep your employees healthy mentally.
Sanitizing and Cleaning Your Workplace
You should be implementing a deep clean before your employees return to their jobs. Once they return, you should put a routine cleaning and disinfecting practice in place. The CDC has appropriate guidance information for non-healthcare workplaces. The EPA has also put out information with similar guidelines for public workplaces.
As an employer, you should also require employees to practice good hygiene while they are at work, such as:
- Avoid touching their mouth, nose, or eyes
- Stay home if they feel they have symptoms of COVID-19
- Wash hands with soap and water regularly
- Cover sneezes and coughs with their elbow or tissue
- Provide ample supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues, hand soap, and garbage receptacles
Employers should put measures in place to screen visitors, customers, employees, and all others who have to enter the workplace. COVID-19 has made it possible for employers to have some leeway about certain medical inquiries that were not allowed before this pandemic. As an employer, you now have the right to:
- Perform temperature checks
- Ask screening questions such as, do you have symptoms, or does anyone in your household have symptoms? Have you been symptom-free for at least three days? Have you been exposed to anyone with a confirmed case?
- Request a medical exam if you reasonably and objectively believe an employee has a medical condition
- Request a doctor’s note from returning employees who have been on leave
Because of the severity COVID-19 has placed on this country’s economy, you, as an employer, can cut employee wages and hours. Ensure you are following relevant wage and hour laws for these decisions.
COVID-19 has inflicted a number of changes in our lives and will continue to do so until we have finally found solid ground regarding the spread and control of the virus. As an employer, you will face many challenges, and the best practice will be to balance what is right for your business, what is suitable for your employees, and to follow the laws regarding COVID-19.