March 10, 2020
Coronavirus Guidance for Employers
By: Stephanie E. Harley
About: Employment & Labor
While the immediate risk to Americans remains uncertain as a result of the Coronavirus, employers should take some common-sense steps to reduce transmission of all infectious diseases and be prepared if the Coronavirus risk increases.
The following steps are recommended at this time:
- Reassure employees that you have a business continuity plan in place and that you are continuing to monitor the spread of the virus. Remind employees that their safety and well-being is your top priority.
- Remind employees that the basic good hygiene they use during cold and flu season will greatly reduce the transmission of the Coronavirus. Employees should regularly wash their hands with warm water or hand sanitizer and not touch their face, nose, or mouth with unclean hands. If an employee needs to cough or sneeze, they should do so in a tissue, immediately dispose of the tissue, and wash their hands.
- Employees who are sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick or who traveled to a region of the world with a severe outbreak should stay home, especially if they have a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms.
- Review the essential functions that are necessary to keep your business running and whether those job duties can be performed remotely. If so, do the employees who will be performing those functions have the equipment they will need to work remotely? How can job duties be shifted if you have a spike in absenteeism due to a local outbreak?
- Evaluate your sick leave/PTO policy as well as your medical leave-of-absence policy. Begin to think about ways you can be flexible if an outbreak near your facility arises.
- Make sure you are regularly cleaning your workplace, especially commonly touched surfaces, with disinfectant sufficiently strong to kill germs.
- Discourage employees from traveling outside of the United States to countries where outbreaks have occurred. If an outbreak occurs within the United States, also encourage the rescheduling of non-essential travel within the United States.
- Look ahead at any large gatherings you plan to host or that your employees plan to attend. For those events that are not essential, find out what the options are for cancelation if the need arises.
- Have a plan in place to communicate with all employees outside of the workplace if you need to advise them of an office closure or known infection exposure.
Ulmer attorneys provide employers with the full spectrum of employment and labor representation, including providing guidance and proactive counseling in the face of the Coronavirus outbreak. If you have specific questions about how to handle a situation related to the Coronavirus or any other employment-related concern, feel free to reach out to Stephanie. For more information on Ulmer’s Employment & Labor Practice Group, click here.