Clark Hill: Best Practices for Bringing Employees Back to the OfficeApril 29, 2020
In today’s Tele-Town Hall, Clark Hill’s Maria Fracassa Dwyer spoke with Tammy Carnrike, chief operating officer for the Detroit Regional Chamber, on how employers should transition their employees back to work once the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” order is lifted. She addressed issues such as if businesses will be held responsible if employees contract COVID-19 at work, how to best transition employees back to the office safely, and what policies employers should put in place.
It’s important for employers to know that if an employee contracts COVID-19 in the workplace, workers’ compensation could apply in that situation, explained Dwyer. That’s why it’s crucial that businesses do everything in their power to limit the transmission of the virus on-site by administering health screenings, personal protection equipment (PPE), and enforcing social distancing protocols. While generally limited to personal injuries in the workplace, employees can pierce through this limit if employers do not prioritize health and safety. Therefore, compliance plans are strongly encouraged.
It’s crucial for businesses to increase flexibility and communication with employees to make sure individuals feel comfortable returning to work, said Dwyer. Employers should inform staff about everything they are doing to maximize safety and limit transmission.
Ensuring a Safe Transition
Even if businesses are legally allowed to once the governor’s order is lifted, Dwyer advised against sending all employees back on-site at once. Since many companies already have their employees teleworking, continuing this practice and allowing only those who need to on-site will limit transmission.
Dwyer recommended that employers encourage weekly check-ins for those teleworking to make sure employees are on-track to completing projects and that their plates are full.
Putting Policies in Place
Having a plan in place for the transition back to the workplace is essential, said Dwyer. Questions will arise such as if employees who travel for work need to be quarantined and if employees with COVID-19 must receive clearance before returning to work when recovered. Though businesses should take on these issues on a case-by-case basis, they should have a plan in place to guide decisions, Dwyer explained.
Businesses should anticipate employees’ concerns and remain ready to address them, she said.