Coronavirus (COVID-19): Employers need to take swift action
The health and well-being of our clients and colleagues are of the utmost importance to us here at McGlinchey, and as a valued client of our firm, we know that your employees and your customers are of utmost importance to you, as well.
As the world continues to monitor the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the number of confirmed cases continues to grow in the United States, it is vital that employers take swift action to protect their employees and preserve their ability to continue to do business.
These are issues we anticipate seeing in the workplace in the coming weeks and months:
- Compliance with travel restrictions, quarantines, and other government initiatives: It will be very important to communicate to your employees the necessary compliance with any restrictions in place.
- Exempt v. Non-Exempt compensation: The FLSA and certain state laws govern compensation when employees are not working or not able to work. Questions such as whether exempt employees are entitled to continued salaries even if they are not working for entire weeks will certainly come up.
- FMLA: Navigating whether an absence related to infection or caring for others is possibly covered such that positions need to be held.
- OSHA: Is your workplace safe? Are you taking the correct precautions to ensure that your employees are not exposed to infection?
We advise employers to:
- Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations in all of their offices for employee use.
- Provide disinfectant wipes for use for elevator buttons, door handles, etc.
- Consider advising employees to adopt contact-less greetings, for now, since even a handshake can transmit a viral infection.
- Advise employees to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Ask employees to remain at home and not come to work if they are ill. If they do, employers should be able to explain policy-based options, whether they be sick leave, PTO, or remote work.
- Recommend that employees wash their hands frequently. See https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html for proper handwashing techniques.
- Contact building administrators or landlords to confirm that cleaning crews have been directed to thoroughly clean all door handles, elevator buttons, cabinet pulls, workspaces, etc.
It is essential to keep lines of communication open regarding procedures in the event of an outbreak near any of your offices. If offices need to close, be prepared to provide further instructions regarding working from home, payroll, benefits, etc. We recommend updating your disaster response policy or pandemic response policy as needed.
As always, the McGlinchey employment team is here to help. Please contact us with any questions on the above topics or employer/employee relations in general. We look forward to helping.