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How to Safely Bring Employees Back to Work Amid COVID-19

May 6, 2020

It has become a different world since the coronavirus entered our lives. As the number of confirmed cases continued to grow, America watched as state officials made the tough decision to shut down schools, businesses, and public gathering places across the United States. However, despite the continuous growth in cases, policymakers are working on a feasible way to safely bring people back to work and the economy back on its feet. There is a set of recommended guidelines put in place for businesses to begin welcoming employees back into a safe work environment.

COVID-19: Return to Work Guidance and Recommendations for Employers

Employers must promote and encourage necessary infection prevention measures such as good hygiene and infection management procedures.

OSHA highly recommends the following practices:

  • Encourage regular and thorough hand washing. Make sure the bathrooms are frequently disinfected, and there is always soap in the dispensers. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains no less than 60% alcohol.
  • Recommend that all employees who are feeling ill to stay home.
  • Take steps to limit the spread of the respiratory secretions of people by providing and encouraging the use of face masks.Getting people back to work safely.
  • Educate employees on safety measures and make aware of coronavirus symptoms.
  • Consider implementing staggered shifts when inviting employees back into the workplace.
  • Discourage workers from sharing office equipment such as phones, desks, offices, work tools, and equipment, when possible.
  • Increase typical housekeeping practices such as disinfecting surfaces, door handles, equipment, and other areas of the work environment.
  • Make necessary adjustments to the layout of office space. If employees are working near one another, find ways to create barriers such as plexiglass shields or rearrange and eliminate desks to develop at least six feet of space between individuals.
  • Set a schedule for meal breaks to reduce the number of people sharing a cafeteria at a time. Depending on the size of your rest area, encourage that only one or two workers are using the restrooms at a time. This may require placing a sign on the outer door to indicate that it is in use.
  • If possible, ask vulnerable employees or employees with close family members who are at high risk of working from home. People who are generally at high risk are older or have pre-existing health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, or lung or heart problems or who are undergoing cancer treatment and pregnant workers.

Evaluate and Update Employment Policies The Families First Coronavirus Act

During the pandemic, the government has added new legislation, guidance, and regulations specific to COVID-19. These guidelines help protect employees’ safety and the safety of others in a shared work environment. Make sure you are well informed about the following changes to employees’ rights and continue to look for updates on policy changes.

The Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) allows qualified workers that are employed with a company that has less than 500 people the ability to take up to 80 hours of emergency sick leave. The conditions that fall under FFCRA are:

  1. Is subject to quarantine or isolation order or caring for someone subject to quarantine or self-isolation order.
  2. Has been instructed by a health care professional to self-quarantine due to coronavirus concerns or caring for someone who is advised to quarantine.
  3. Undergoing symptoms of coronavirus and waiting for medical diagnosis.
  4. If caring for a child who is experiencing symptoms, or their childcare service has become unavailable.

The pay rates vary depending on the circumstances.

Some local and state laws may vary based on where you are employed, such as New York, California, Washington D.C., and Illinois.

More information about the Families First Coronavirus Act is available through the Department of Labor.

Consider Employee Testing and Monitoring Consider Employee Testing and Monitoring

Even though the stay-at-home orders have lifted in some states, and various non-essential businesses have been permitted to re-open, many Americans are still at risk of contracting COVID-19. Testing is a platform being used to develop a framework for the United States to start opening again. Employers might want to take into consideration their options for monitoring and testing employees for the virus. Employees are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

However, under the recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and CDC guidance, the coronavirus pandemic creates enough risk to allow common testing due to the amount of harm an employee can bring to the workforce if infected from COVID-19. As a result, employers may request medical testing during this pandemic without breaching ADA. Keep in mind that discretionary and privacy rights, as well as anti-discrimination protections, must always be considered.

Conclusion

This has been unprecedented times for businesses across the U.S., every industry has been affected one way or another. The most effective way to rebuild the economy is to get back to work. However, this must be done safely and efficiently. Have a plan and process in place before inviting employees back to work.  Continuously stay up to date on federal and state guidelines for policy adjustments. Remember, getting employees back to work is going to be a slow process that does not happen overnight. Safety is first and foremost; the rest will come with time as we enter the “new normal.”

Alternative Financing Options for Businesses Getting back to work amid COVID-19

TCI Business Capital understands what you as a business owner is facing during this difficult time. We are here for you. Since 1994, TCI Business Capital has provided best-in-class factoring services to thousands of small to mid-sized companies across the United States. We offer reliable cash-flow solutions, enabling companies to meet the challenges they face and the opportunities they have available.

 
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