As counties are taken off the COVID-19 watch list and state and local governments slowly permit employees to return to work, California employers need to be prepared to protect both themselves and their employees against a myriad of issues relating to COVID-19. In our current climate of uncertainty, those issues can pertain to health, employment law, and social-emotional benefits and risks.
Here are some points to consider before taking the steps of re-opening your workplace.
Is it critical that my employees work from an office?
One of the initial questions that should be addressed by company decision-makers is whether it is absolutely necessary to have employees return to work. Some jobs simply cannot be done from home, while others can be. And some are a combination of both. Employees splitting their time between remote and onsite work so as to promote social distancing and a less congested workplace can work in some situations. So what is the best solution for your company and each of your employees, taking into consideration their health and well-being?
Does my company have the proper postings and policies in place?
Given the various and ever-changing rules and suggestions provided by the state and local governments, it would be ideal for your company to post reminders around the workplace advising the employees of the federal, state, and local requirements that should be followed while at the workplace. These postings should certainly include signs describing the self-monitoring of symptoms, advising employees that they may not come into work if they are not feeling well, and other sanitization and social distancing obligations. Furthermore, employees should receive vigorous training on their obligations under the new health and safety policies.
Am I providing a clean workplace?
As mentioned, California and county / city health departments require employees to follow certain social distancing and sanitization protocols while in the workplace. As an employer in California, it is your responsibility to provide your employees with proper PPE, including masks, and require them to follow sanitization protocols.
Can I screen my employees for symptoms of COVID-19?
Yes, generally speaking, an employer can screen employees for COVID-19 related symptoms. Upon each employees’ return to the workplace, the employer should provide a detailed policy outlining the process. Prior to implementing the health screening, protocols must be in place to ensure that the health data collected is kept confidential to the extent possible and the employer should evaluate whether the employees are entitled to receive notice under the newly enacted California Consumer Privacy Act.
While the above provides some general advice, it is important to consult federal, state, and local guidance to ensure that you are taking all the appropriate steps to safely return employees to work. For a no obligation consultation with our experienced attorneys, contact the Webb Law Group today.