With COVID-19 cases on the rise in South Florida, businesses are looking for ways to re-open offices safely. Brett Schneider, Chair of the Labor & Employment Division, provided 10 legal tips in the South Florida Business Journal’s cover story, “Navigating the perils of reopening the office.”
1. Create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan. That includes virus mitigation strategies, operations adjustments and transmission response plans.
2. Identify where and how individuals could be exposed to the virus at work (e.g., breakrooms or meeting rooms), and frequently sanitize and develop hazard controls for those areas.
3. Require face coverings in communal areas, and communicate to employees what qualifies as a face covering (usually a cloth covering that can loop around the ears).
4. Keep workers at least 6 feet apart to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. Install plastic dividers between workspaces that are closer together.
5. Minimize the number of employees in the workplace by resuming operations in phases or staggering shifts at the office.
6. Monitor employee health and ask workers to stay home if they appear symptomatic. (While businesses are typically advised not to inquire about an individual employees’ health, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has made an exception for COVID-19.)
7. Create and test communication systems that employees can use to self-report if they are sick and to notify others of potential exposure.
8. Although not required, businesses can legally test returning employees for COVID-19 before allowing them into the workplace.
9. Offer reasonable accommodations to workers at a higher risk for severe illness. That could include remote work or paid leave.
10. Allow workers to stay home to care for parents, spouses or children who have the virus. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, businesses with more than 50 employees must provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible workers who need to care for family.
Read the full article here.