The global conversation around COVID-19 and Workplace Safety (coronavirus) continues to escalate and impact employers around the world. It is the responsibility of every employer to focus on workplace safety and we want to ensure you have the resources you need to support your team. It is important to stay informed and communicate with your team and follow the CDC guidelines on how to prevent the spread.
The team at PuzzleHR is here to support our clients and help answer the questions that will inevitably be asked.
Some common questions about COVID-19 and Workplace Safety are:
What can your employees do to prevent the spread?
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in trash.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
When is time off protected and paid?
Employers must first evaluate whether absences are covered under federal, state and local leave laws, including unpaid leave laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act may also provide a right to job-protected leave. If you can accommodate an employee working remotely, do so. This effort will help minimize the coronavirus spread.
Can I send an employee home?
Employers should encourage sick employees to stay home. You can send an employee home who appears to be ill, but you cannot force them go to the doctor. Depending on your policy, you can require them to have a “return to work” note before returning to work.
Can I stop an employee from traveling?
You can stop your employees work related travel due to risk of exposure. However, if employees are traveling for leisure you cannot. You should also refrain from forcing an employee to travel during this time if they feel uncomfortable traveling or otherwise refuse to travel.
To ensure people’s safety, and based on the CDC’s guidance, we strongly suggest that you take steps to cancel or postpone all nonessential employee travel to affected areas and promote alternative meeting methods. We find video conferencing, using tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and others, to be very effective.
Can I ask an employee if they have been diagnosed with an illness?
You can ask an employee if they have been to an area where they may have been exposed to COVID-19. You cannot ask them if they have been diagnosed.
Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. The situation around the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve and we are here to support our clients, answer questions and assist with navigating any situations that arise. If you need help creating strategies or policies at your company to help deal with COVID-19 or any other workplace safety concerns, contact us. We are happy to help.