Employers who need employees to return to the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic must have a solid plan in place to ensure safe and compliant workplaces. This plan should take into consideration the guidelines issued by various regulatory agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). As regulations and guidelines change, employers must continue to remain compliant. Working with lawyers who fully know and understand compliance guidelines can help employers make a smooth, safe, and lawful return to work.
How Should Employers Develop a Return to the Workplace Plan?
The best way to start developing a plan is to become familiar with the guidelines, laws, and regulations that have been issued by health agencies and other governing bodies. Topics include the following:
- OSHA guidelines pertaining to the three phases of reopening
- CDC guidance on identifying potential exposure to COVID-19 and how to eliminate or lessen exposure
- Medical monitoring of employees and employee self-reporting of health conditions
- Confidentiality guidelines
- Employer and employee rights
- Safety protocols for visitors, guests, vendors, and job applicants
Another good strategy is to hire an employment lawyer to navigate the sheer volume of requirements and information available. A lawyer can also help employers make a compliant and safe transition back to the workplace.
What Should Employers Include in a Return to Work Plan?
At the minimum, a return to work plan should include the following three phases:
- Telework accommodations, reduced business travel, and limited in-office work
- Increased in-office personnel, increase in business travel
- Unrestricted staffing at workplaces and work sites
Each phase of the plan must address these issues:
- How to prevent, monitor, and respond to individual cases or a resurgence of COVID-19 in the workplace or community
- Specific guidelines for hygiene, including mask wearing, handwashing, temperature monitoring, disinfecting, and cleaning the workplace
- Social distancing plans and how to physically configure the workplace to comply with social distancing
- Establishing and communicating new policies and procedures on employee travel, employee gatherings, and use of employer facilities, such as break rooms, restrooms, fitness centers, and meeting rooms
- How to monitor employee health and isolate sick employees
- Implementing sick leave or other policies to increase flexibility and reduce concerns during the pandemic
- How to train employees on hygiene and new policies and procedures as a result of compliance with guidelines
- Educating employees on how to stay safe and healthy outside of work, offering free resources to employees, including masks, hand sanitizer, and information
- Ongoing workplace hazard assessment to reduce potential areas where the virus can live or spread
- Clear guidelines for responding to employee concerns, OSHA complaints, and lawsuits
A good first step is to contact an employment lawyer who can counsel on the most appropriate, current, and legal resources available to a business or company.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Businesses Lawfully Reopen and Return to Work
If your company needs direction with its plan to reopen successfully and legally, reach out to the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Our knowledgeable and dedicated attorneys know the COVID-19 guidelines, laws, and regulations issued by regulatory authorities. Fill out our online contact form or call us at 215-574-0600 today for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.