As businesses begin to re-open and employees return to work, businesses should be prepared for legal issues that may arise or develop policies and procedures to address existing issues. Some of the common employment practices claims arising out of COVID-19 include the following:
- Workplace Health and Safety
- Leave (FMLA, FFCRA)
- Wage and Hour
- Wrongful Termination
To help businesses navigate recovery and re-opening, here are some best business practices to implement as you prepare to slowly return to “normal” business operations.
Comply with local, state, and federal laws. Laws and regulations are constantly changing, which is why it is imperative to ensure you are in compliance with laws and regulations at local, state, and federal levels. Regularly monitoring new, modified, and expired local, state, and federal laws and regulations can assist with modifying policies and procedures in real time to maintain compliance and essentially reduce claims.
Develop proper communication and implementation of policies. One way to combat claims is developing effective communication to all employees. Implementing new policies and procedures is a complex process and it is critical that employers do their due diligence in ensuring employees’ questions and concerns are addressed in a timely manner and adequate resources are provided to assist employees in understanding the new policies and procedures. A great way to communicate such changes is hosting a webinar or meeting where employees are able to ask questions and express concerns in real time and you are able to address them head on.
Train staff of new policies and procedures. A prominent issue with implementing new policies and procedures is providing adequate training. It is critical that all employees, specifically managers, are trained on the new policies and procedures to help ease implementation and enforcement of such policies and procedures. Return to work plans should address personal protective equipment, workspace hygiene, physical distancing, and other regulations according to public health and government agencies.
Consult professional legal counsel. If you’re unsure of how to implement new policies and procedures or have questions regarding compliance, it is in your best interest to consult professional legal counsel. Legal counsel can guide you through understanding, implementing, and complying with local, state, and federal laws.
Harbor America and its partner Vensure Employer Services hosted a free webinar discussing return to work topics, such as Personal Paycheck Protection Loans, general safety practices, communicating with employees and clients, and state-by-state and local municipality thoughts. As your partner PEO provider, Harbor America understands the heightened sense of uncertainty and overwhelming fear of businesses re-opening and employees’ return to work. Our team of HR specialists are able to guide you through the intricacies of compliance, employee relations, and employee-related questions you may have regarding return to work policies and procedures. Please contact Harbor America to schedule a return to work consultation. Additionally, check out our Return to Work Resources page on our website for free resources and information to utilize.