Legally Navigating a COVID-free Workplace

A workplace that’s COVID-free keeps employees safe and protects the company’s interests. Because the pandemic is such unfamiliar territory, managers and owners must ensure they comply with all laws and regulations to keep their workplace COVID-free. The following information should make this process easier. 


Familiarize Yourself With Government Guidelines

Regardless of the type of workplace, take the time to stay up to date with local and federal government guidelines. It is good practice to post these guidelines near the entrance or in the break room to keep employees informed. 


Create a Prevention Plan

To keep the workplace COVID-free, you must create and implement a plan to prevent the spread of the disease. Examples of best practices in a prevention policy include social distancing and regular cleaning and disinfection. 


Open in Phases

Part of a plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should include staggering employees’ work hours, if possible. This includes allowing work to occur in shifts and creating a schedule that’s efficient for your company and employees. 


Create a Management Plan

There should also be a plan in place to manage any employees who test positive for COVID-19. This plan should include procedures for other employees that came into contact with the infected person. 


Be Wise About Mandating a Return to Work

One of the more challenging areas for HR to navigate is when employees refuse to come back to the office after government restrictions are lifted. There is no one-size-fits-all guideline for this situation and companies need to evaluate each instance.


Handling FMLA Requests


Companies should proceed with caution before denying an employee’s request to take time off to care for a sick family member since the request may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Americans with Disabilities Act or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act may also require you to approve this leave. As such, do not deny this type of time-off request without first considering the legal consequences.