Although it's essential to follow worker protection laws, return to workplace policies during a pandemic requires more innovation, too.
What new strategies can be used to be more effective in the new environment at your workplace?
How do you effectively integrate new procedures that help your business and employees effectively adjust?
Learn more about how you can facilitate a well-managed return to the workplace after COVID-19.
1. Examine Your Worker Protection Laws
There is a myriad of laws and acts which exist to keep work safe for your employees and you. The following are a few such policies to keep in mind when facilitating a workplace reoccupancy.
Occupational Safety and Health Act
When preparing your employees for going back to work, before you create any response plans, you should refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). OSHA has several policies to consider for your staff's workplace reoccupancy, depending on their possible exposure risk.
National Labor Relations Act
You should also refer to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Although this act is not primarily centered on employee health and safety, it does govern how your employees can unionize to protect their rights, especially in times of crisis. Your main concern should be following basic worker protection laws to avoid any conflict with employees.
Families First Cornavirus Response Act
For those of your employees with dependents, the Families First Cornavirus Response Act (FFRCA), which extends through the end of 2020, your staff are legally provided two weeks paid sick leave. This act also covers 12 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave.
Your company must have less than 500 employees, and any employees attempting to invoke this act have to display COVID-19 symptoms. As a manager, you cannot make employees come into the office if they fall under the FFRCA.
Other Points of Consideration
If there is a physical location for people going to work, you need to avoid violating any worker protection laws thoroughly. Gallagher Bassett can help with any technical services you need to protect your employees.
2. Create an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
When creating an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, you should first consider your level of exposure. If your employees do not need to return to their workplaces or offices to perform their responsibilities effectively, then do not put them back in the workplace. Developing an effective plan is a straightforward process if you follow these steps.
- Examine possible sources of exposure for any people going to work in the office.
- Follow federal, state, and local recommendations for contingency plans and the possible side effects of this.
- Prepare necessary infection prevention measures.
You may see heightened workplace absenteeism and delays in productivity until your company fully adjusts to the return to workplace plan.
3. Conduct a Hazard Assessment for Work Safe Protocols
Your hazard assessment should examine levels of exposure, based on a few factors. Whether people going to work are exposed to the general public, customers, or coworkers or not will increase and decrease your hazard levels.
Consider non-occupational exposure hazards, such as visited locations outside of work. Address individual risk factors, especially those persons predisposed to transmitting or at-risk of catching the virus.
4. Update Policies for Employees' Workplace Reoccupancy
Your new workplace policies should certainly address the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and pandemic procedures, but should also discuss some expected changes in the workplace.
Address that you anticipate people avoiding going back to work in the office, especially with the inconvenience of new policies. Emphasize the need for social distancing and consider staggering work hours or rearranging the office layout.
Make a note of employees willing or able to receive cross-training for those people going to work versus those employees still working remotely. Explain who your employees can turn to for resources and information, as well as how their work will likely be different than usual (i.e., supply chain interruptions or delivery delays).
5. Introduce PPE and General Cleaning Procedures
Depending on the risk of exposure for your employees, you should consider a series of necessary infection prevention procedures. These solutions are straightforward and easily implemented when done correctly.
- Encourage regular and thorough handwashing of both people going to work and customers.
- If your employees are ill, advise them to stay home.
- Support covered coughs and sneezes, as well as receptacles for tissues.
- Discourage the use of shared office materials or property that belongs to other employees.
- Regularly disinfect common spaces and personal areas, as well as often touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, light switches).
The minor housekeeping practices can make work safe and help you manage a more straightforward workplace reoccupancy for your employees.
6. Communicate New Safety Measures to Staff
When communicating new safety measures to your employees, explain the flexibility of sick leave policies, mainly to decrease the likelihood of transmitting diseases unintentionally. Additionally, highlight your willingness for flexibility with those employees who have children or family members they take care of.
Provide training for any new policies put into place to ensure workplace safety. Review the introduction of necessary housekeeping procedures and any more in-depth adjustments, such as new office layouts or staggered work hours.
7. Assign Workforce Reoccupancy Personnel for Information
Your employees will have several questions about new workplace policies. Assign a qualified member of your team to oversee the addressing these concerns. Your employees will most likely inquire about:
- Payment schedules
- Paid time off and sick leave
- Safety and health concerns
- Other issues related to changes
Taking the time to designate a team member to this role will provide consistency in information shared, as well as facilitate a smoother transition. It will also show your employees that you care about them being informed and "in the know."
Getting Back to Work Safe and Sound
When considering your people going to work, you do not want to leave them mired in difficult procedures with services they cannot rely on for the transition.
For more information and expert help getting ready to reoccupy workspaces, consider GB Technical Services today. We have the resources you need to transition from remotely operating your company to going back to work, safe, and sound. For more information on contact tracing, click here.