Last week the Federal Government issued its Opening Up America Again guidelines creating a three-phased approach to assist state and local officials in reopening their economies. It mandates that states need to satisfy certain “Gating Criteria,” including a 14-day downward trajectory of new cases, non-crisis care treatment of patients in hospitals and a robust testing program. Now that the concept of re-opening the American economy has been introduced, companies of all sizes should begin to consider how they can safely reopen as well. Recommended reopening measures, that aim to both protect and insure the safety of the workforce and the company, include:
- Continue to encourage telework
- Return to work in phases
- Close all common areas
- Minimize non-essential travel
- Provide special accommodations for vulnerable employees
Once the workforce begins to return, employers will need to remain diligent in protecting their employees from potential exposure to the virus. The key is to have a plan in place. Ongoing measures should include:
- Systems for regularly sanitizing common areas. All physical spaces should be sanitized by custodial services and a plan of regular sanitization should be put in force.
- Observing for symptoms. Employers should consider taking employees’ temperatures each day before allowing them to enter the work space and have a plan in place to assist any employee who exhibits a fever or other symptoms.
- Continue to use PPE. Employer should provide cleaning products and hand sanitizers for employee use in their own and shared spaces. Employers should also recommend the use of gloves and masks by employees and make them available for use for those who do not have these items.
- Continue social distancing within office spaces. Employers should consider adjustments to the office layout to enhance social distancing within the workplace and consider removing chairs from kitchens and conference rooms to maintain a minimum of six feet between occupants.
- Request feedback. This situation is the first of its kind. No company is fully prepared to respond, and no employee knows what to expect. Ensure there is an open gateway between employees and management to find out what is working and where there is need for improvement.
Once a state or region reports no evidence of a rebound of the virus and continues to meet the Gating Criteria for a third time, employers may resume unrestricted staffing of their workplaces.
As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.