During these unprecedented times, as people return to work, questions arise as to how and what office life will look like.
Different businesses will have different approaches, based on the nature of their business. With us, since we carry intangible items (insurance policies, etc.), we do not get many visits from the public. With that, keeping our clients safe is a bit easier to do at this time when it comes to virus risk management.
Maintaining distance, cleaning surfaces, creating physical barriers, and other practices in the workplace can help mitigate risk and keep your staff safe. Here are a few good ideas:
- It is important that you continue to practice social distancing. Some places have marked on the floor 6 feet apart, others have delegated the flow of traffic through the office to avoid passing by closely to others.
- Encourage employees to wash hands and refrain from using other’s supplies, etc. Keep sanitizer, soap and paper towels readily available.
- You might want to require employees to disclose any travel plans they may have so that you know if anyone is traveling to a highly affected area.
- A thermometer (or disposable thermometers) in the office to keep up with body temperatures is a great idea.
- Adjusting air conditioners, opening windows or turning on fans for better circulation and flow of the air can be helpful.
- Encourage employees to wear masks. Be sure that they aren’t using each other’s phones or headsets.
- Do not share utensils and plates in the break room. You might even want to encourage employees to eat at their desks, so they are not in close contact to others during lunch.
Office life will be very different than before in most cases, so work with employees as they learn the new office “rules”.
Employment law changes
Now that you have done your part in learning how to manage office life when employees return to work, it is important you understand employment law changes during this time.
- If you have any employee that does not feel safe returning to work, it is best to accommodate them. If they can work remotely that is great. They can take PTO or unpaid non-medical leave.
- Employees with children, according to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which applies to businesses with < 500 employees, will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds the regular pay. For the first two weeks the emergency paid sick leave of up to 80 hours will apply. The following 10 weeks, paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave only.
- An employer cannot require employees to take other PTO, vacation or previously provided sick leave before availing to this mandated sick leave.
With the new shelter-in-place directives, we hope this helps in returning to work as we know it. #StaySafe