On September 24th the Parkways Business Council hosted a Return to Work Employer Preparedness livestream event. PBC Chairman Alex De Jorge spoke to Jaime Escobar and Carey Stephenson with ADP about some of the most common questions and concerns expressed by employers as their employees return to work on-site. You can view the entire conversation with Jaime and Carey at the bottom of the blog post, or skim through some of the main points of interest below.
First off, ADP shared with us their Return to Work Guide, which can be downloaded here. This guide includes an FAQ for employers as they welcome their employees back to the office or work location.
The 3 Most Common Questions From Small Business Owners
Carey Stephenson of ADP outlined the three most common questions that ADP receives from their small business clients. See the brief outline below and view the video at the bottom of the page for more details including a Q&A session following the initial presentation.
1. How do I go about re-opening? What do I need to be aware of?
OSHA requires employers to provide a workplace free of any known hazards, and COVID-19 has been classified as a known hazard. Therefore, as an employer, you must show that you are taking steps to mitigate the hazard of COVID. These steps may include:
- Staggered schedules
- Following of CDC Guidelines
It is also important to visibly communicate that you have done these things.
2. What do I do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?
Should one of your employees test positive, a great start is to refer to the FAQ on page 19 of ADP’s Return to Work Guide and the CDC website for detailed cleaning requirements, etc. Then, be sure to complete the following steps:
- Speak to the person who tested positive and determine who they might have had contact with.
- Contact the other employees or clients who had recent contact with the positive person.
- DO NOT give out the name of the positive employee.
- Document the positive case the subsequent steps taken to clean and contact trace.
3. I’ve readied my work space, notified my employees of the steps I’ve taken, but what if an employee says they won’t return?
In prior situations, refusal to work would have been legitimate cause for termination, but in the case of COVID-19 the question of “why” the employee refuses to work is important. Situations in which an employee might refuse to work include:
- Concerns for their safety. – In this situation, reiterate the steps you have taken to create a hazard-free work environment.
- Personal medical condition. – This may fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act and it may be necessary to make accommodations for the employee.
- They do not want to give up unemployment. – This is not a valid reason and can be cause for termination.