Businesses are reopening and workers are returning who had been teleworking, furloughed, or fired. Employers are feverishly trying to solve unprecedented legal and logistical challenges to strike the best balance between savings lives and saving businesses. Complying with a myriad of employment laws, rules and regulations was complicated before the COVID-19 pandemic; now, it is exponentially more daunting. Here are some important pitfalls to avoid and tips to follow for employers as they cautiously transition.
Safety is job one. Employers are legally obligated maintain a safe work environment. Every day, they must closely monitor and comply with federal, state and local governmental directives, guidelines and recommendations for businesses considering reopening to ensure their workers return to a safe environment. Lawsuits have already been filed against meatpacking plants and emergency injunctions mandating immediate compliance with OSHA and CDC safety rules have been issued almost immediately. Employers will need all of their ingenuity to conduct proper employee testing and screening, deny access to employees with symptoms, supply protective equipment, refit workstations, stagger schedules, use four-day work weeks and Saturdays, continue teleworking, permit returns to be voluntary, limit workplace occupancy levels, and spread out and disinfect work spaces.
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