Coronavirus Workplace Checklist

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | March 03, 2020

Author: Stacie Caraway

UPDATE:  As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Several employers have asked for our assistance regarding preparing for the Coronavirus in their workplaces. Here are our thoughts on a preliminary “Coronavirus Workplace Checklist.”

  1. Ask employees to wash their hands OFTEN with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of their hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Instruct them to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. (Make sure the soap in restrooms and break areas is anti-bacterial.)
  2. Ask employees to cover their mouths and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing and/or sneezing.
  3. Instruct them to avoid contact with others who are experiencing fever, flu-like symptoms, and or upper respiratory issues.
  4. Also instruct them to stay home when they or if others in their home are experiencing fever, flu-like symptoms, and or upper respiratory issues.
  5. Require anyone experiencing fever, flu-like symptoms, and or upper respiratory issues to stay home from work until the fever breaks and their symptoms clear up.
  6. Have your I.T. Department begin preparations to assist employees whom you may need to work from home in the event they or others may need to be quarantined.
  7. Have your Housekeeping Department “go to the next level” regarding disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces like doorknobs, copy machines, break areas, and restrooms.
  8. Provide hand sanitizer stations outside restrooms and in break and copy areas/all common areas and at all entrances. Provide disinfectant wipes in break areas, copy rooms, and other common areas.
  9. Require employees to notify Human Resources if they recently have or will be traveling internationally or if anyone in their households have done so.
  10. Provide or advise employees who travel via air (even domestically) or via other forms of public transportation to take travel hand sanitizer and/or wipes with them.
  11. Consider providing 3–5 days of extra sick time for the next 90–120 days in order to try to incentivize employees to take the above “STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK” instructions seriously.
  12. Regarding employee privacy concerns, if you become aware that an employee has Coronavirus or the symptoms thereof, you do not need to inform other employees of exactly what the employee has but should have Housekeeping disinfect all areas where they have been. There is also nothing wrong with telling employees who work in their area to do so as well.
  13. You may require a return to work note for any employees who have traveled internationally or who have members of their households who have or certainly for those who have been out sick with fever, flu-like symptoms, and or upper respiratory issues. Some employers are requiring any employee who falls into any of these categories to work from home until they can be medically cleared to return to work or at least until the two-week Coronavirus incubation period is past.
  14. You may also want to speak to your insurance company if you have business continuation/interruption insurance regarding a business continuity/interruption plan or otherwise develop one.

We realize this checklist may generate additional questions regarding topics such as how to pay employees who are unable to work from home, but who are otherwise not able to work due to their office/worksite being closed or being asked not to return to work during an incubation period despite their personally not being sick. Other issues may emerge as well such as how to make sure hourly employees who are allowed to work from home do not work off the clock or what to do if an employee who is asked to work from home temporarily then requests to do so on a regular basis. What if employees begin refusing to come to work due to concerns with contracting the virus?

For these and other challenges you encounter navigating this potential public health emergency, please feel free to contact any member of our Labor & Employment Law Practice Group.

For more information and to stay up-to-date on the evolving situation from a public health standpoint, visit the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information about the ongoing developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit Miller & Martin's Coronavirus Resources.

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