We have entered unprecedented times as we all respond to COVID-19. We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the situation and are working to ensure we meet the needs of our clients as well as provide for the health and safety of our employees. Our goal is to be in a position to serve our clients and even more so in times of uncertainty and confusion.
As such, we have implemented proactive steps to ensure that the continuity of our service is not impacted. We will remain fully operational with all offices open; however, beginning March 16th, a portion of our workforce will begin working from home. All of our colleagues will have access to their direct phone lines and email. In addition, our main phone lines will remain open.
The next few weeks may bring additional unexpected developments and disruption. We are committed to staying focused on those factors that remain within our control including our commitment to supporting our clients needs. Please take comfort in knowing that we are well positioned to weather this storm.
We will remain vigilant in the face of this adversity and hope that our community remains safe and healthy. Please feel free to contact a member of our service team should you have any concerns or needs.
As the number of reported cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise, employers are increasingly confronted with the possibility of an outbreak in the workplace.
Employers are obligated to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, but are also subject to a number of legal requirements protecting workers. This Compliance Bulletin linked below provides a summary of the compliance issues facing employers in this type of situation.
There are a number of steps that employers can take to address the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. In addition to reviewing the compliance concerns outlined in this Compliance Bulletin, employers should:
Closely monitor the CDC, WHO, and state and local public health department websites for information on the status of the Coronavirus.
Proactively educate their employees on what is known about the virus, including its transmission and prevention.
Establish a written communicable illness policy and response plan that covers communicable diseases readily transmitted in the workplace.
Consider measures that can help prevent the spread of illness, such as allowing employees flexible work options like working from home. are
As concern about coronavirus – the upper-respiratory infection that was first diagnosed in humans in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and has spread to the United States in recent days – grows worldwide, employers face a series of questions regarding the impact the virus will have on the workplace.
What Must Employers Do to Maintain a Safe Workplace?
U.S. employers may have concerns about compliance with workplace safety laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Under OSHA, workers have the right to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm; to receive information and training about workplace hazards; and to exercise their rights without retaliation, among others. To that end, employers should continue to monitor the development of the coronavirus and analyze whether employees could be at actual risk of exposure.
Given that employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees, employers should take some basic steps to help prevent the spread of disease and keep employees healthy:
Educating employees on the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and the precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk of contracting the virus. At this time, the CDC believes symptoms appear within two to fourteen days after exposure, with some infected individuals showing little to no signs.
Providing hand sanitizer and hand washing stations, flu masks and facial tissues; encouraging employees to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
Minimizing unnecessary meetings and visitors, and assessing the risks of exposure by identifying workers who may have recently traveled to, come in direct contact with, or are scheduled to go to Wuhan City, and the Hubei Province in China.
Implementing travel guidelines and procedures for approvals for travel to China.
Allowing sick employees to work from home or take leave as appropriate.
Some employee concerns will be reasonably based and consistent with guidance from the World Health Organization, CDC, and OSHA; other concerns may be driven by unfounded fear or speculation. Employers should continue to monitor the information and recommendations from the CDC, OSHA, the State Department, along with information from other federal, state, and local government agencies involved in the response.