Ways to Ready the Workplace for Returning Workers

By Kimberly Daise

Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed when many businesses were starting to shut down. There are likely a significant number of workers who are no aware of it or have not yet used this Act. When workers start returning to work, it is likely that employers will additional exposure related to infections. Employees may be entitled to this benefit.
Among its provisions in the Act are requirements that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide emergency paid sick leave up to 80 hours for employees who cannot work because
• ·They are quarantined pursuant to a government or healthcare provider’s order and/or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. The employee is entitled to receive his regular rate of pay. Or.
• They need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor. These employees are entitled to receive two-thirds of their normal pay.
In both cases, the employer is responsible for payments.
An additional component of the act allows employees to take up to 10 weeks of family and medical leave at two-thirds of their regular pay to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed.
Many larger employers not covered by the Act are enacting some type of emergency paid sick leave as well.
But these and other paid sick leaves should not be the sole answer to employees returning to work who are faced with other demands. Employers will need to be more social responsibility and flexible. Employers will need to implement procedures that will ease the transition of returning workers. Preparation for what is happening when they return and sustainability are key.
Many companies plan to start opening in the next week or two. Companies need to ensure they are keeping their employees safe and complying with the various restrictions still in place.
Currently, there are 19 states that require employees to wear masks. The question for each employer, “Will you provide them, give them a stipend to purchase them, all cloth face coverings?” for your employees.
Additionally, employers should ensure they have ‘facility readiness. The appropriate infrastructure to ensure social distancing will be critical. That is the footprint of an office/workspace or job site location needs to look a little different from before.