COVID-19 & Employment FAQs

FAQ: Employee Rights During the Coronavirus Pandemic

nullWith the COVID-19 Pandemic sweeping the nation, it has brought up lots of concern. When it comes to the workplace, it can get a bit confusing. Everyone wants to stay safe but it can seem unclear what the responsibilities of employees and employers are. For this reason, we’re going to take some time to discuss some of the most commonly asked questions below.

What To Do If An Employee Is Showing Symptoms?

As any good employment lawyer Newport Beach will tell you, any employee showing symptoms should be immediately separated from others. This includes other employees, visitors, and customers. It’s best to plan on sending these employees home to assist in preventing the spread of the virus. You should be alerting employees of the importance of staying at home if they are showing symptoms of the virus. This keeps everyone safe and slows down the spread.

How Should I Disinfect After Someone Is Tested Positive?

Your employment attorney Newport Beach will tell you that you don’t need to shut down your entire facility. Rather, you should just blockade the areas that the employee spent long periods of time in. For example, their office or desk should be closed off to further use. After waiting 24 hours, the area can be disinfected with soap and water. It’s best to have your cleaning personnel use personal protective equipment to minimize their risk of developing the virus.

Should Employees Who Have Been Exposed Come To Work?

Those who have come into close contact with a person that tested positive can potentially have the virus. For this reason, it’s imperative to have these people self-isolate. You may find that having them wear a face covering and practicing social distancing can work just as well when there are instances you need them in the office. If exposed employees start to show symptoms of the virus, then they should remain at home until they’ve met all the criteria for discontinued home isolation.

When Should An Employee Who Had The Virus Come Back To Work?

Your Beach workplace lawyer will tell you that the best recommendation is to follow the order of the doctor that diagnosed the employee. In most cases, this will be a period of 10 days from the onset of their symptoms. It’s important to make sure that the employee no longer has a fever or other symptoms before returning back to work.

How To Keep Employees Who Interact With The Public Safe?

There are numerous practices that you can implement to keep your employees safe from the general public when working. Your Newport Beach labor attorney for employees can give you a list of the CDC recommendations. The most obvious is to increase the amount of physical space between your employees and the customers that they serve. If possible, institute hand sanitation stations where employees can wash their hands in between dealing with various customers. Having employees wearing masks is another measure of protecting them.

Should I Screen Employees For Symptoms?

Your employment lawyer Newport Beach will tell you that screening employees is not a completely effective way to mitigate the risks of this condition. Rather, this type of health check is completely optional and can only show you symptoms that are currently visible. For example, taking an employee’s temperature before starting work can reveal if they have a fever. However, it doesn’t guarantee they don’t have the virus. It’s likely that your employment attorney Newport Beach will just recommend informing employees of potential symptoms and having them self-screen each day before coming to work.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Offer Paid Sick Leave?

One of the biggest topics right now is whether or not employees will be paid when they are mandated to stay at home due to the virus. When you don’t offer paid sick leave, this could leave employees trying to come to work even though they may have been exposed to the virus. Thankfully, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has offered financial tax credits to businesses to pay for the sick leave the employees may need to take due to the virus. This will be available through the end of the year 2020. 

Should I Require A Doctor’s Note For Positive Test Results?

It can be easy to think that employees should provide a doctor’s note when they test positive as that’s what we’re all used to doing with other conditions. However, that’s not the case with COVID-19. Due to the massive scale of the pandemic, getting notes from healthcare providers is proving more and more difficult. As your Newport Beach workplace lawyer will explain, it’s best to not require any sort of positive test result and just go on the word of your employee.

Should I Cancel Meetings And Conferences?

It’s important to try and practice social distancing when possible. Encourage the use of teleconferencing or videoconferencing when possible. With the high use of technology, you’ll be sure to find programs like Zoom that will allow you to meet up with your team in a safe environment. In regards to conferences, it’s likely that many of them have been canceled. If there are still conferences going on, you should carefully consider whether the travel is worth it. If you deem it is, make sure employees practice social distancing and facial covers to protect themselves during the journey.

Is My Business Considered Critical?

Any Newport Beach labor attorney for employees will tell you that many business owners get confused figuring out whether they’re deemed critical or not. The Department Of Homeland Security has actually developed an official list that you can access to determine if your industry is on it. It’s vital that you check this list against your local and state guidelines as they are given the final determination in this specific matter.

What Are Ways Other Than Cleaning To Decrease The Spread In The Workplace?

While all employers know at this point that they must have regular cleanings of the office to keep the spread of the virus at bay, many want to know what other things they can do to enhance their efforts. Start with putting hand sanitizer stations throughout the office to promote good hygiene habits for employees. You should discourage physical touch like handshakes according to your Newport Beach workplace lawyer. Consider hanging up signs explaining symptoms and when employees are encouraged to stay at home.