Category: Employment

Should Employers Require a Checklist for Remote Workers?

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Before a person takes a job that will require them to work remotely, they should be sure that the employer has established a checklist that will go over the employee’s responsibilities and the employer’s obligations. With no traditional structure surrounding an employee, it can be easy to drift beyond the scope of their responsibilities. It is important for employers to establish a checklist at the outset so both the employee and employer have a firm understanding of each other’s responsibilities. The onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced numerous businesses to work remotely. If firms continue using remote workers, they should establish a checklist when hiring new employees.

What Items Should be Included on a Checklist?

A checklist establishes the parameters of a remote employee’s responsibilities. For the employee, it is good to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer. Specifically, the checklist should include information about:

  • The state the employee resides
  • Telecommuting plans
  • Employer responsibilities
  • Workspace parameters

By laying out the specifics in all four categories, employers and employees can establish a positive working relationship that should function just as well as if they were both working in the same office.

Why Does It Matter Where I am Working?

Employment law differs by state and impacts certain ways that employers interact with employees and what benefits they can and should provide. Employers should determine the state their employee is working out of and become familiar with the specific employment laws and regulations that apply. These are essential even during the hiring process as different states allow certain questions to be asked on applications while others do not. Having a checklist that lays out a state’s specific regulations will enable the hiring process to run smoothly.

What Should a Checklist Include About the Telecommute?

From the beginning of a relationship between an employer and a remote employee, the structure of that relationship should be established. For instance, an employee should know right away if the remote aspect of the job is temporary or permanent. They should also know if the position is 100 percent remote or if there will be some time in the office. The employee should also be made aware of any potential timeline of the job moving back to the office.

An employer should establish work hours for an employee and how that employee will check in during the day. It is important for an employee to understand when the workday begins and ends to prevent them from working too much or not enough. They should also know if they are eligible for overtime and how that can be accurately tracked to ensure that they are not taking advantage of the situation or are being taken advantage of.

What Will My Employer be Responsible For?

When establishing a remote working relationship, a checklist should include what an employer will be responsible for when it comes to paying for expenses. An employee should understand what expenses an employer will pay for and which ones will be the responsibility of the employee.

The equipment an employee uses should also be a part of a checklist for an employer as to what they will provide. Whether an employer elects to provide that equipment is up to them, so long as they explain that at the start of the relationship. Along with equipment comes minor expenses, such as mailing, faxing, and purchasing small office supplies, such as paper and folders.

How Should Remote Employees Establish Workspaces?

Security measures need to be established if a remote employee is working on sensitive material. Most are working from home where there are other people around. Both sides need to establish what an employee must do to secure whatever electronic device they are working on to prevent others from gaining access to it. If a company does not provide a phone for the employee, they may need to use their personal device for professional reasons. An employer should establish how much business they are comfortable with their employee conducting on their personal appliances.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Employees’ Rights

If you are experiencing employment issues while working remotely, the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help you. Our hard-working lawyers know the law and can help you achieve the resolution that is best for you. Fill out an online form or call us at 215-574-0600 today for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

What are the Current 2021 Workplace Litigation Trends? 

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Workplace Litigation Trends

With 2021 well underway, experts and forecasters are busy predicting what the year will bring in terms of political changes, economics, and public arenas, like workplaces. Naturally, the pandemic has impacted every facet of life. This and other factors are currently influencing current 2021 workplace litigation trends.

How has COVID-19 Affected Workplace Litigation?

Industries will be affected differently as the pandemic continues. Some companies have faced claims that they violated COVID-19 workplace safety regulations, and there have been cases with employers attempting to retaliate against employees for speaking out about violations. Other businesses have had legal issues pertaining to staff, including rehiring furloughed workers, layoffs, and retaining talent.

Leave and remote work conflicts are also becoming common issues. Employers must be careful when choosing who can return to work, as this could lead to discrimination claims. It is also important to keep up with government safety recommendations and to communicate these to all employees in a timely fashion. Companies that provide the vaccine to employees can use this to retain and attract talent; however, requiring employees to show proof of vaccination before returning to work could lead to litigation.

Will Wage and Hour Litigation Increase?

The standard 40-hour work week could soon become a thing of the past, as companies have become more flexible about working hours. Gartner’s Reimagine HR Employee Survey showed companies that provide flexible hours and working locations saw 55 percent of high-performance rates. It is thought that more employers will be measuring employee productivity by actual output instead of the number of hours and locale.

With so many people working from home, having reduced hours, and being furloughed, it is not surprising that worker misclassification and timekeeping errors have been trending upward. It is more difficult to record working hours when employees are at home. One report claims that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will be prioritizing wage theft enforcement; there has also been minimum wage increases for 25 states this year. There are other regulatory changes and key state initiatives as well.

How Do Government Regulations Factor in?

Another study showed that government agencies, including the DOL, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), brought fewer legal actions in 2020 when compared to previous years. Nevertheless, the EEOC recovered $535.4 million last year for alleged discrimination victims. It is thought that the new presidential administration is likely to focus on administering employment litigation. There could be more regulation of businesses, assertive enforcement of workplace laws, and a possible expansion of workers’ rights.

What Other Trends are Significant?

As workplace environments evolve, it is important to note other changes that may be on the way. The pandemic has provided business leadership with more visibility into their employees’ personal lives, helping companies understand how home lives impact work performance. Employees who feel that their companies support their personal lives also perform better. As an example, if a worker with a seriously ill child was allowed to work remotely until further notice, they might perform better than if they had to report to an office.

Employee monitoring is another trend to watch. Over 25 percent of companies surveyed had invested in new technology to track and monitor their employees through passive means. Meanwhile, respondents admitted that they were not sure of the best ways to protect employee privacy while using the technology. This can erode away at employee trust, especially if the data is not shared with them. This year, there will be new state and local regulations about limiting what employers may track and monitor.

Philadelphia Employment Litigation Defense Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients with Employment Litigation

If your company is facing employment litigation, turn to the skilled Philadelphia employment litigation defense lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will protect your best interests and provide skilled legal representation if needed. Complete our online form or call 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we help clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Department of Labor Makes Final Rule on Independent Contractors

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Recently, the Department of Labor adopted a final rule pertaining to clarification over who could be classified as an independent contractor. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes what benefits and flexibility employers have with their employees. For instance, non-exempt employees must receive at least minimum wage and be paid overtime wages if they work more than 40 hours a week. However, this law does not apply to independent contractors.

Since employers do not have to offer any perks to independent contractors, some have argued that they have deliberately misclassified their employees to avoid paying for these benefits. Multiple courts have weighed in on the controversy, but there has not been any clarity on the federal level until now.

What Does the New Rule State?

The Labor Department stated that the new rule will reaffirm the economic reality test that has been standard in the industry to determine whether an individual is in business for themselves, such as an independent contractor, or is economically dependent on a potential employer for work, such as an FLSA employee. The rule highlights two core factors that can be used to make that determination:

  • The nature and degree of control over the work.
  • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment.

If those two factors fail to provide the necessary clarification, the department offered three additional guideposts that should help employers determine a worker’s proper status. They are:

  • The amount of skill required for the work.
  • The degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer.
  • Whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.

The new rule, which is scheduled to take effect on March 8, applies only to workers that fall under the jurisdiction of the FLSA. It would also not impact local and state law requirements.

Will the New Rule Take Effect?

The new President could easily block the new rule from taking effect. Congress could also get involved and stop the rule using its authority under the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress a limited time to repeal any rule finalized by a government agency. A reconstituted Labor Department could modify the current version to return to an old policy that allowed for an employer-employee relationship to be established even when indirect control existed over the worker.

How Should Employers React to the New Rule?

Regardless of the outcome, businesses should use the adoption of the new rule as an opportunity to evaluate the relationship they have with their employees. They should re-examine the status of those workers and determine if their status makes sense for the work that they are doing and the control they have over their own situation. Employers should guarantee that they have correctly classified their employees and determine that classification based on who has the right to control or direct the results of their work, as opposed to how the employee and employer define their relationship.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Misclassified Workers

If you believe that you have been misclassified by your employer or if you are a business and would like an attorney review your compliance with the FLSA, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We can help you with your case. For an initial consultation, call 215-574-0600 or contact us online today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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Do Employment Laws Apply to Remote Workers?

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At the height of the pandemic, numerous businesses were forced to close their offices. However, certain businesses did not have to shut down and by using improved technology and communications, they were able to conduct business with little interruption. The push toward an increase in remote working was on the rise prior to the pandemic, although it certainly hastened the move and demonstrated its practicality to several businesses.

Whenever the pandemic ends, it is unclear what businesses will look like. Many see the benefits and savings of having their employees work remotely and continue to utilize that model. However, as more businesses utilize remote workers, they must continue to follow state employment laws where they are physically working.

Can State Laws Impact an Employee’s Pay?

A person’s salary can be impacted by the state they are living in, as well as the amount of hours they can work in a week. An employer should become familiar with the rules in the states of their employees. Some aspects of pay that could be impacted include:

  • Minimum wage: Some states have adopted a higher minimum wage than others. It is important to know that an employee is making enough to satisfy their state’s requirement.
  • Overtime: State laws determine when an employee becomes eligible for overtime. Employers must verify that employees are tracking their hours to confirm if they are eligible for overtime.
  • Telecommuting expenses: Not every state requires an employer to reimburse an employee for telecommuting expenses. However, there can be some unintended consequences for those companies that fail to offer reimbursements, such as expenses that drop an employee’s hourly wage below the state’s requirement.

What are Certain Leave Issues Employers Should Consider?

Even though an employee is working from home, it does not mean that they are no longer eligible to accrue sick time or take time off work for extended medical absences. On a federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) still applies. In addition, most states have their own medical and family leave polices as well that the company must adhere to. Sick time is mandated by the state where an employee is physically working, which could raise some disparity among employees working in various states.

Are Employers Required to Distribute Notices?

Certain state laws require employers to provide notices to their employees. In many cases, some of these notices take place at the time of hire, while some occur annually. The documents can address different topics such as wage, leave/benefits notifications, or descriptions about anti-harassment or discrimination laws. Employees should consider the home state of the new employee and its applicable laws.

Certain employment laws require employers to physically display posters around the office to inform employees about certain laws and policies, such as wage and hour laws and anti-discrimination provisions. An electronic version of the poster may be more relevant to employees for certain companies working remotely. Additionally, state-mandated training applies to certain state employees.

What About Different State Laws?

To protect themselves moving forward, employers should conduct a thorough audit of all their employees and the states that they reside and work in. They should determine how long they intend to allow their employees to telecommute and if that delay is worth it. If a company is dedicated to telecommuting for the foreseeable future, it might want to consider putting together individualized employee handbooks based on their state of residence. Even if telecommuting is not in the company’s long-term plan, it makes sense to provide employees with at least a temporary teleworking arrangement.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Employers and Employees Understand Changing Employment Laws During the Pandemic

Given the number of employees who are working from home right now, employment laws have become much more complicated. If you need legal help sifting through the different laws, reach out to the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. today. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to get started. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

What are Common Legal Issues that Businesses Face?

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Managing a successful small business can be a lot of work, especially in the early stages, when many difficult financial decisions must be made. The biggest ones pertain to what owners plan to spend their limited budget on. Given that resources can be tight, it is understandable why some elect to avoid some big-ticket items, like hiring a lawyer. While that may seem to make sense in the short-term, it could wind up costing the company much more in the long run. There are several common problems that impact all companies that a knowledgeable lawyer would be able to help the firm avoid.

Do I Have the Right Structure for My Business?

One of the first things that an entrepreneur and their partners must decide on is the structure of their business. This is extremely important because it could have serious tax liability issues. Establishing the correct structure will save a company several severe headaches going forward. Some of the different types of structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation

Each one of these structures handles the liability and tax responsibilities of the owner in a different way. An LLC, for instance, separates the two and treats them as two different entities. Owners should research the different corporate structures thoroughly before deciding on which to choose.

What are Some Employee Issues I Need to Consider?

Even if the structure of the company is secure, another common problem that all companies deal with is managing employees. One of the biggest aspects of that is deciding how to classify them and verifying that their classification matches their level of responsibility. There are three main types of classifications, which are:

  • Full time employee: This type of employee is someone who works more than 30 hours a week. The company is obligated to offer health insurance, Workers’ Compensation, and other benefits.
  • Part time employee: These employees work a maximum of 30 hours a week and are usually not eligible for benefits, although a company can offer them if it elects to.
  • Independent contractor: This is a person who operates outside of the structure of a particular office and works independently. They are responsible for paying their own Medicare and other taxes, and are not eligible for some universal benefits, like Workers’ Compensation.

Deciding how to classify employees can be a tricky action, as misclassifying someone can lead to litigation later on. The best way to avoid any problems is to evaluate a job description ahead of time and decide what the hours and responsibilities will be, then classify the position based on the added costs of potentially paying for benefits.

If that position cannot be fully funded, the company may have to do without it until it can find the funding somewhere else to pay for that position. The legal costs further down the road are not worth cutting any corners with a person’s pay or benefits.

What Type of Paperwork Should I File on a Regular Basis?

Maintaining a business is more than just keeping employees and customers happy. There is a significant amount of paperwork that must be filed with both the state and the federal government on an ongoing basis. If a firm is publicly held, it could fall under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the federal level and state regulators. Regardless, the company will be under an obligation to file certain documents, including:

  • Financial statements: These documents contain a snapshot of the firm’s financial status, including its income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flow.
  • Financial information: Any data that the company chooses to post about itself on its website.
  • Annual reports: These are issued to shareholders once a year.
  • Prospectus: A document that describes the investment offering for the public.

What Should I Do if I Have a Contract Dispute?

While contracts are supposed to be binding agreements between two or more parties, there can be disagreements between those parties over one’s actions. It may also be necessary to break a contract because the two sides no longer wish to work together anymore. To avoid a messy legal dispute, it is best to thoroughly review any contract before signing it. All parties should include language that grants them an easy escape should certain violations take place, or some other action occur, such as one of the two sides is arrested or has some other public embarrassment.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Small Businesses with Legal Matters

If you are facing legal hurdles within your small business and need help finding a legal remedy, reach out to the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. For an initial consultation, call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Can Employers Restrict Employee Holiday Travel Plans?

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As news outlets report on how COVID-19 cases are surging and hospital beds are filling up, experts are advising people to cut back on holiday celebrations. They are not the only ones urging caution though, as some employers are asking their workers to do so as well. Some have created corporate videos and sent out memos to remind workers to avoid extensive travel and large gatherings. Others have offered paid time off for possible post-holiday quarantines or asked their employees to sign pledges that they would avoid large celebrations.

As a general rule, companies cannot restrict employees from attending holiday gatherings or holiday travel. However, there should be proper protocols in place; otherwise, employers could be liable if outbreaks occur in their workplaces. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates employers to provide safe workplaces. This is why companies need to screen their employees and keep the lines of communication open.

Companies have legitimate concerns about their employees traveling and celebrating during the holiday season, as these activities can increase the risk of exposure, infection, and quarantine. It is a gray area, so it makes sense to first look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines; these are updated regularly. For example, employers can make workers who travel to CDC Level 2 or 3 countries, or areas that have higher percentages of positive cases, self-quarantine for 14 days before coming back to work. This holds true even when employees show no symptoms.

Companies can require workers to get tested after travel, and this is in line with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. It can take 14 days for infections to appear, so even if an employee tests negative, they could be positive afterward.

What About State Laws?

Though some companies may attempt to impose employee travel bans, it could be against the law in some states. As an example, some New York laws prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against employees who engage in lawful recreational activities outside of working hours, and this could apply to holiday gatherings or travel.

Employers can be uncertain about approaching the topic, since while attending large parties or traveling out of state might be risky, it is not thought to be illegal, unless there are state regulations in place. It is legal for employers to talk to workers about holiday plans, as long as the goal is to preserve the health and safety of everyone who workers there. These inquiries should be based on legitimate business concerns. Workers can also be given information about social distancing protocols; state, city, and county regulations; and travel advisories.

Companies may also ask employees to quarantine after the holidays, and they do have the right to do so. In some cases, employees can work from home when isolating, and this can be the best solution. There are laws such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that allow this to be considered paid time off, but only in certain circumstances.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients with Various Employment Matters

If you are unsure about your rights as an employee this holiday season, get in touch with the knowledgeable Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. For a confidential consultation, call us at 215-574-0600 or complete our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

How Can Employers Help Employees Embrace Company Culture Changes?

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A distinct company culture is very important to the success of a business. Company cultures may change periodically to reflect new technologies and policies. Although necessary, this can be difficult for certain employees to embrace and accept, especially if they have been at the company for a long time.

Workplace culture is a broad term that encompasses a company’s physical environment to the mental and psychological space that company executives have created for their employees. It is the personality of a company that employees and clients embrace when walking into the office. Firm culture is important for a company to establish when expanding. A positive workplace culture will ultimately lead to a higher success rate for the company.

How to Handle Changes in Workplace Culture

Finding the perfect firm cultural balance may take time and is something that will continuously need improvement. Creating a workplace that can quickly and efficiently adapt to changes is important in making employees feel comfortable. The first step a company can take before, during, and after workplace change is to assess their current environment and develop a way to produce a more positive culture. To do this, company executives should put more priority on the hiring process to help weed out toxicity and hire positive people. Companies can also develop committees and programs to help maintain a positive work culture and help those who need it while transitioning to new workplace systems. The following are ways to help produce and maintain a positive work environment:

  • Firmwide meetings: Include every employee in a monthly meeting where all team members can ask questions and address their concerns. Seek feedback and employee engagement whenever possible to show employees that they are valued, and their opinions are important.
  • Anonymous complaints: Create a place where employees can address their problems anonymously if they do not feel comfortable speaking to their supervisors face-to-face.
  • Lead by example: Introducing new technologies or protocols to a workplace may be confusing and intimidating to employees. Executives should lead by example and show employees that change is good and necessary for the success of the company.
  • Diversity and inclusion committee: Create a committee that focuses on making a more equitable work environment.
  • Maintain a sense of community: Managers should ensure that their employees feel welcomed and part of a team. They should remind employees that they are a main component to the success of the company and are a valued team member.
  • Appropriate training: Managers should train their employees properly to prepare them for how their work culture is run and maintained. Training should also cover how change is enacted and handled to better prepare new employees for workplace adjustments.
  • Create change from an employee’s perspective: It may be easy for a manager to produce changes that they feel are good for the work environment, but it is more productive to approach change from an employee’s point-of-view and listen to what they have to say.

What to Do If an Employee is Unhappy with the Firm Culture

Not every employee reacts to company change in the same way. If an employee is upset or requires a slower transitional period, discuss with them their concerns. Changing and adapting to new company culture protocol can take time but is necessary when getting employees to embrace a business. Companies should create a workplace culture where employees feel comfortable and valued at work. Establishing a culture where change is embraced and accepted is also important to the success of a company, as well as to the success of individual workers.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Make Company Changes Easier to Understand

The Philadelphia business and employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. range in experience with business and employment matters to help produce the best outcome for our clients. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for help with your legal matter. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Equal Pay Lawsuits Filed by Female Professors

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Equal pay is a constant fight for women in the workplace. Despite having similar or better credentials, women are still being paid less than their male counterparts. No matter the profession, gender discrimination happens in all workplaces, especially within those with a high population of older men. Women must work harder to prove themselves and may work their entire lives without being paid fairly in comparison to their male co-workers.

A law professor at the University of Texas School of Law recently filed an Equal Pay Act lawsuit due to the unfair pay she received in relation to her male co-workers. This complaint also alleges sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is not the first time that the law professor complained to the university about unfair compensation and sexual discrimination. She speaks out frequently about the pay inequality at the university, despite the school’s verbal negative perceptions of her and her actions.

A Texas judge granted the university’s motion to partially dismiss the law professor’s lawsuit due to a failed causal connection between her pay complaints and receiving the lowest raise of any school faculty member. Her claims are still ongoing.

Ongoing Claims

This is not the first woman professor to bring a lawsuit to court. At least five other equal pay lawsuits have been filed by female professors from various universities since 2016. These lawsuits have been filed due to the way universities determine compensation. Law school deans often have significant say in pay decisions, which can be tainted by gender bias and because many men in the teaching field gain more respect for research and writing, despite their lack of quality and importance in relation to their female co-workers. This increases the dean’s overall opinion of male professors and allows them to raise their salaries.

Gender discrimination and pay gap issues often occur in the workplace. Many situations go unnoticed because women are afraid of the consequences if they mention it to their bosses. The female law professor has been described as poison after she confronted the appropriate parties. Other professors who filed lawsuits also stated that they were removed from important committee assignments and ignored in the workplace. Words and actions like these are why women are afraid to take a stand against pay inequality.

Although there are many obstacles that women face in the workplace, especially when it comes to pay gaps, it is important to fight for equal compensation. Fighting for equal pay is an ongoing battle and requires female workers to stand up for themselves when they feel as though they are being treated unfairly.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Fight for Equal Compensation in the Workplace

If you feel as though your pay does not match your abilities and that you are not being fairly compensated, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. for help. Our dedicated team understands the pay gap frustration and will work hard to ensure you receive proper pay. Gender discrimination is a serious issue that will only get resolved if we continue to fight for the rights of female workers. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

How Should Employees Return to the Workplace During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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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.

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Does My Employer Have to Share If a Co-Worker has COVID?

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused confusion among companies, and employees are unsure about what information they need to share with their employer and what can stay private. COVID-19 is a very serious illness that can cause death, specifically in the elderly and those who have underlying conditions. To keep the virus under control, many businesses and government officials are urging employees to tell their employer if they contracted COVID-19. If a case is publically known, workers can be more wary of symptoms and health precautions in the workplace.

This pandemic has been difficult to control, and confusion still arises over the proper protocols to keep people safe. To help minimize exposure and potential risk, workers who do not feel good or have tested positive for the virus should stay home and report their situation to their immediate supervisors. Although it is recommended for an employee to tell their employer if they have COVID-19, it is not legally required. However, employers are expected to tell their employees if they have been in contact with someone who has the virus at work, but there is no specific rule on notifying employees in the workplace.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines ways to notify employees of a specific case and what to do when in contact with that person. Unfortunately, it is not necessary for an employer to name the specific worker who has been infected. The infected employee is protected by health privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers have to report the infected employee to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Being an essential worker during the pandemic is a very challenging and stressful job. Now that more stores and companies are opening back up, it is up to essential workers to keep supplying our country with health services, food, and other necessities. These workers are putting their lives on the line to help others. To make their lives a bit easier, employers should encourage the sharing of information between workers to help control the spread of the virus and keep everyone safe. Although it is not legally required, it could benefit every worker if they know about a confirmed case in the workplace.

Maintaining Safe Work Environments

If a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19, it is important to maintain proper safety protocols to keep everyone else at the company from infection. Always remember to wear a mask, wash hands for 20 seconds, wear gloves when touching public amenities, and keep each workplace clean. To alleviate stress, employers should be actively checking in on their employees and providing them with enough personal protective equipment to keep them safe and healthy while at work. Employers can maintain confidentiality between co-workers, but it is recommended to inform workers of a positive case or outbreak.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Advocate for Employees and Employers During the Pandemic

If you have been discriminated against or treated unfairly in the workplace due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. for legal help. Our dedicated and skilled attorneys are determined to protect your rights and help you receive maximum compensation. Contact us online or call us at 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.