Employers: Do you have a plan for employees to return to work?

POST DATE: 6.10.20
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At least in the U.S., we’ve reached the point of the COVID-19 journey where we’re eyeing and planning re-opening (in phases). As we all begin to plan ahead, returning to work is top of mind for employers and employees alike -- more specifically, how to do it safely and in the best interest of public health and wellness. Even essential businesses who have operated to this point will need to revisit and revise how they will conduct business and operations. Thus, CCHA asks -- Employers: do you have a plan for employees to return to work?

If you answered “no,” then here are some considerations that should help shape your plan of action:

  • How have you prepared the physical workplace to safely accommodate your employees?
  • How have you prepared your employees to best prepare for re-opening the workplace?
  • Have you created the process or protocol for employees who are not yet ready to return to the workplace?
  • In the event there is a ”surge” of the virus (as has been discussed as a possibility, come Fall 2020 or later), are you prepared for this or other issues that may arise as employees return to work?

Once those questions are answered and documented, distributing them to employees is the next step in ensuring execution.

CCHA recommends all employers seek legal counsel to ensure compliance with their respective state orders. To help avoid unnecessary concerns and to alleviate fears, your employees need to know how you plan to keep them safe, and communication is always a key ingredient. Reassuring your employees that a strategic plan is in place will help mitigate concern, creating less of an opportunity for resistance or unwillingness to cooperate.

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Your return-to-work plan should also consider addressing the following (per the CDC’s guidance):

  • Frequency and process for health checks, if any;
  • Details surrounding a hazard assessment of the workplace;
  • Encouragement to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate;
  • Implementation of policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace;
  • Any steps taken to improve the building ventilation system (if applicable).

Preparing for a return-to-work on the front end, though it certainly requires time and coordination, will help prevent any unforeseen or extenuating circumstances. CCHA’s labor + employment attorneys are here to help with your return-to-work plan, so feel free to contact us. We understand that proactive guidance is crucial to building and maintaining a productive working environment, and our general counsel compliance services are proactive, helping clients identify risks before they develop into costly and time-consuming litigation.