10 Things to Consider When Reopening After COVID-19
With some states already reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic and others following soon, it’s essential to make sure workplaces are adequately prepared for the reemergence of workers on site. Here are 10 factors to consider as you finalize the road back for your company.
If you have employees who are afraid to return to work, speak with them to understand where their fear is coming from. Reassure them that you’re following guidance from the CDC, OSHA and state directives for infection prevention measures. And make sure you apply your PTO policies consistently. In addition, before you discipline staff for not returning, consider the legal risks and seek advice.
Employees with Underlying Health Conditions
Certain medical conditions put employees at a higher risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 like heart conditions, cancer and diabetes. Be aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with underlying conditions. Also pay attention to your state’s rollout plans since some have different criteria for those over 60. Otherwise, don’t treat older employees differently.
Before reopening, create a strategic plan that outlines which employees to bring back and when. To rehire employees, simply bring them back onto your payroll as if there was no break in service. If you removed workers from benefits, put them back on your plans. And if you stopped retirement plans, restart them. Keep in mind that as long as employees’ Form I-9 documents haven’t expired, you won’t need to reverify.
Consider how you’ll control the movement of employees to maintain a social distance and keep at least six feet apart. Some options include staggering activities like shifts, breaks and lunches. And limit the size of all gatherings.
You may want to maintain the widespread use of telework at this time and update your policies accordingly. For those non-exempt employees that continue to work from home, remind them to carefully track their time and record when they take breaks and lunch.
New Employees and I-9 Verification
If you’re planning to bring on new employees, you don’t need to view original documents or have the new hire come into the office to complete Form I-9. Right now, even a family member or friend can complete Section 2 and you can keep copies of the documents.
You may want to put medical screening protocols in place – they may even be mandated by state law – that require a medical screening process prior to allowing employees, vendors, delivery drivers, salespeople, merchandizers and others to enter a workplace.
Preparing the workplace for reopening should include plans for cleaning and disinfecting. Plan to clean break and lunchroom areas at least once a day wearing PPE. And frequently clean items like door handles, toilet seats, counters, and copy machines.
In some states, like Rhode Island, face coverings will be mandated for employees working in customer and client-facing businesses, nonprofits and office-based businesses. Be aware of requirements in your state as well as any exceptions such as for employees who can continuously maintain at least six feet of distance or for whom wearing a face covering could damage their health.
Exposure in the Workplace
If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, let employees know. However, don’t disclose the name of the employee. Disinfect and sanitize the workplace and consider quarantining employees who were exposed. For those who have a friend, family member or other close contact diagnosed, determine if the diagnosed individual has been instructed to self-quarantine by the local health department or CDC. When it comes to “critical infrastructure” workers, the CDC says those who may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 can continue to work as long as they are asymptomatic.
Try our HR Helpline for more information about reopening your business post-coronavirus. Contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401-332-9325.