Re-opening your business and allowing employees back onsite involves more than making an announcement. There are many HR management tasks and best practices to implement.
Primarily, there will be changes in company policies in regards to most every aspect of day-to-day operations of many businesses.
These changes will range from how and where recruiting and hiring takes place, to onboarding of new employees, and through daily functions such as facilitating breaks and staff meetings, to the layout of workstations and offices.
Getting Employees Prepared for Being Back at Work
For employees at most businesses in California, being back at work won't be "business as usual" and there are likely going to be far-ranging changes and adjustments, and many that will be permanent.
This reality was echoed in a recent article,
"Getting back to work after the initial COVID-19 pandemic wave is almost certainly going to bring changes to pre-pandemic work policies, procedures and practices. The number and types of changes depend largely on the nature of the business's work and its workplace conditions.
While employers have much to consider in implementing new policies, compliance with any ongoing state and local sheltering or distancing orders, following the guidance of the CDC, OSHA and other government sources, and complying with new and old employment laws – employers cannot comply with the myriad of mandated and suggested changes to doing business without also undertaking proper workforce training."
In addition to implementing policies and striving to ensure compliance with local, state and federal rules and guidelines, employers need to train and equip returning employees for what may be significantly different workplace conditions.
The fact is that many employees may never return to work onsite. This is actually a positive situation for most businesses and workers as they have determined that remote work is an advantageous alternative for some positions. In fact, according to a recent report from SHRM, almost 70 percent of employers were taking steps to allow employees to continue working from home.
In addition, according to a survey of employers from consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, over 40 percent of businesses have made, or are planning to make, changes to PTO, vacation and sick-day programs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Employers say they are making changes to increase employee flexibility and reduce the number of accrued days by year-end.
So, what do employees who do come back to the office need to be trained on?
According to an article at JDSupra.com, employers should consider training on the following topics:
- New federal employee benefits (Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave) where applicable, and recognizing and appropriately responding to employees' requests for paid leave
- New safety procedures including social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, contact logging, sanitizing, hygiene, etc.
- OSHA requirements and CDC and other guidance including an explanation of why measures are being implemented, how to execute the new rules and considerations, and how to be vigilant identifying and reporting safety concerns
- Recognizing and responding to actionable complaints and potential retaliation related to COVID-19
- Recognizing FMLA and ADA requests in the context of COVID-19 (particularly those related to anxiety about returning to work)
- Performance management and monitoring of employees' compliance with new safety procedures, including social distancing and PPE use, and how to properly respond to employees' noncompliance
Post-Coronavirus Compliance Best Practices
Along with ensuring that those employees who will be coming back to work are properly equipped and trained, there are a variety policy changes that will need to be implemented to ensure compliance.
An article at SGRLaw.com notes that,
"Employers need to carefully develop a written return-to-work plan (aka an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan (“IDPRP”)). Such a plan needs to address applicable federal, state and local return-to-work orders, workplace safety issues, screening measures, and other employee health-related matters.
Analyze applicable federal, state and local orders that may impact the way in which your business may reopen. Adopt procedures to ensure compliance with these orders and other federal, state and local guidance."
In addition, there are a number of policy actions that may need to be taken by employers and HR staff.
These could include the following:
- Defining essential workers who must be on-site
- Requiring fewer in-person meetings
- Third-party visitor and work travel policies
- Leave policies that incorporate any new paid and/or unpaid sick leave laws
- Policies for entering and exiting the worksite
- Privacy policies and practices related to employee screening
- Workplace sanitation practices and hygiene requirements
- Polices for proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing
The process for re-opening or simply bringing workers back onsite must be carefully thought through and should have a written plan. Because every workplace is different, there is no universal plan that will work for all businesses and unique situations will arise in many workplaces.
Additional resources for planning and preparing for Return-to-Work policies can be found here:
- The White House’s guidelines for “Opening Up American Again”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidance for businesses and workplaces
Your Partners for Post-Coronavirus Workforce Management
HR staff haves demanding roles that include recruiting, hiring, and working to retain employees. In addition, HR employees are responsible for other functions such as employee development, payroll management, employee records compliance, and managing employee benefits.
The current situation with the coronavirus pandemic has presented many additional and unanticipated issues and challenges.
Outsourcing is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and strategic option. Accuchex can help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands.
Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.