As part of the state’s response to address the global COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency on March 4, 2020.
The declaration makes additional resources available and formalizes emergency actions already underway to prepare for a possible broader spread of COVID-19.
In addition, on March 13th at 3:30 EST, President Trump announced a National State of Emergency.
The California governor's decision to call for a state of emergency is one of many being made in many other states and in line with official actions on local and regional levels. Along with broader measures being taken on both a national and state levels, individual workplaces must also be proactive in addressing the potential of widespread illness within their organizations.
Workplace Best Practices for COVID 19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a set of guidelines and "best practices" known as "Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers."
Among other measures, the suggested practices include:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Separate sick employees
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
All employers feel a certain degree of responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of their employees, and the current worldwide health threat makes this a challenge for many.
The CDC also provides extensive information and guidance for
"All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.
Ensure the plan is flexible and involve your employees in developing and reviewing your plan.
Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using your plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
Share your plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them.
Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts."
Along with information provided by the CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Act agency, OSHA, has developed a guidance publication for employers and others, "Guidance on Preparing
Workplaces for COVID-19".
"If one does not already exist, develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that can help guide protective actions against COVID-19.
Stay abreast of guidance from federal, state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health agencies, and consider how to incorporate those recommendations and resources into workplace-specific plans.
Plans should consider and address the level(s) of risk associated with various worksites and job tasks workers perform at those sites. Such considerations may include:
■ Where, how, and to what sources of SARS-CoV-2 might workers be exposed, including:
The general public, customers, and coworkers; and Sick individuals or those at particularly high risk
of infection (e.g., international travelers who have visited locations with widespread sustained (ongoing)
COVID-19 transmission, healthcare workers who have had unprotected exposures to people known to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19).
■ Non-occupational risk factors at home and in community settings.
■ Workers’ individual risk factors (e.g., older age; presence of chronic medical conditions, including
immunocompromising conditions; pregnancy).
■ Controls necessary to address those risks."
Workplace Responsibility for Employee Health
According to an article from HushBlackwell, the EEOC is also providing guidance and resources,
"To aid employers in the effort to aggressively contain the virus without running afoul of applicable laws, the EEOC released a technical assistance guide for employers that was originally issued in the wake of the H1N1 pandemic. As a threshold matter, the EEOC guide makes clear that the existence of a pandemic influenza more severe than the seasonal flu or the H1N1 influenza expands an employer’s right to safeguard its workplace. Additionally, an employee with a disability which poses a direct threat to the workplace can also expand an employer’s right to protect the workplace."
Understandably, employers will have many questions as to best practices and legal issues around working with and dealing with employees and preventing the spread of the disease. A helpful post from the legal firm of Perlman and Perlman, LLC provides a large number of Q&As regarding COVID 19 and the workplace.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Informed
Maintaining an updated and compliant paid sick leave strategy and policy will help your organization meet its obligations, as well as provide accuracy and timeliness. Understanding the law, automating sick leave tracking and calculations, and prioritizing accurate record keeping will make compliance a sure thing.
Another key step in maintaining HR compliance and increasing your company's cost-effectiveness is to consider outsourcing. A professional agency such as Accuchex can provide much-needed help with Human Resources needs and questions.
Accuchex is a full spectrum Payroll Management Services provider offering expertise in Time Management, Insurance and Retirement issues, as well.
If you are looking for reliable resource for your HR issues, we can help. And you can get your Free Download: California Paid Sick Leave Law to help you make an informed decision, or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.