EMPLOYER HELPFUL COVID-19 THOUGHTS…
Bea Wolper and Kelly Jasin
With Ohio and many other states slowly beginning the reopening process, many employers are asking what their obligations are in light of COVID-19 concerns and how to best keep their employees and clients safe while protecting their business. Below are a few tips and best practices.
1. Place signs on the doors of your office warning to persons entering:
“All persons entering this office are required to wear masks. No exceptions. Please practice social distancing to the extent possible while visiting our office. Do not come in if you, or anyone you have been around, have any one of the CDC symptoms for COVIVD-19: fever, cough, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell; or has tested positive for COVID-19. Although we know of no current COVID-19 exposure in this office and we are taking reasonable precautions, we cannot guaranty your safety. By entering, you assume the risk of unknown exposure.”
2. Ask Customers and Clients to sign a document stating:
“I have not, nor or has anyone I have been around have, any one of the CDC symptoms for COVIVD-19: including, but not limited to, fever, cough, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell; or has tested positive for COVID-19. I understand that although [COMPANY NAME] knows of no current COVID-19 exposure in this office and the Company is taking reasonable precautions, the Company cannot guaranty my safety. By entering, I assume the risk of unknown exposure.”
3. Because of employee privacy protection laws, and because of confusion as to what can be asked, you can ask if an employee consents to telling you if he/she tested positive for COVID-19.
4. Take necessary precautions with your own workforce on a daily basis.
- If employees can efficiently work from home, continue to allow those who can;
- Take employees temperature prior to entering office;
- Post hand-sanitizing station at entrance;
- Require empoloyees to wear masks at all times (especially when interacting with other employees/clients, or in common use areas);
- Require regular handwashing, including but not limited to before/after interacting with clients/customers and eating;
- Ask that employees disclose if they have symptoms, have tested positive, or have been exposed to anyone with symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19;
- Refrain from shaking hands;
- Ask about any symptoms you observe or other employees observe. If fever, cough or shortness of breath, send home immediately; and
- Disinfect high-touch surfaces as frequently as possible, at least once daily at the end of the day.
5. If employee tests positive for COVID-19:
- Require release from medical provider before allowing to return to work;
- To the extent possible, close off work areas used by the ill person for as long as practical (24 hours, if possible) – and then disinfect entire office with the use of PPE, paying particular attention to high touch areas;
- Send home employees who worked closely (within 6 feet for 10+ minutes) with infected employee to avoid spread and advise to follow current CDC guidelines (currently, self-quarantine for 14 days);
- Notify those who had contact with the employee while the employee had symptoms and for 48 hours prior to showing symptoms (NOTE: Due to privacy laws, you cannot disclose who the employee is, but just that “an employee” has tested positive for COVID-19); and
- If in a shared building, inform building management so they may take whatever precautions they deem necessary.
6. Screen new hires for symptoms of COVID-19.
It is important to note that employers are required to maintain all information regarding illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.
These standards and recommendations are rapidly evolving, and Employers should consistently monitor CDC Guidelines for the most recent recommendations.