Have an Informed and Measured Response to COVID-19

Clients and partners:

On behalf of your partners at Lake Effect HR & Law, we hope that your team continues to be safe and healthy amidst the threat of COVID-19. We want to share with you our recommendations for having an informed and measured response to COVID-19 as employers and co-workers.

Communicate: Throughout the next few weeks and months, it will be critical that leadership provides ongoing communication to employees and key stakeholders. Ensure that all communication about the topic is both empathetic and accurate. Use CDC COVID-19 resources.

This includes maintaining a focus on engaging and boosting morale of in-person and remote employees in this time of crisis and stress. Coach your supervisory staff in how best to manage and engage remote and/or socially distanced employees. Conduct regular well-being checks on employees. Have frequent online 1:1 check-ins, plus online group meetings. Retain your workplace culture traditions virtually, such as video conferenced brown bag lunches and happy hours.

Educate: Educate your employees to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and encourage sick employees to stay home until they are symptom-free. Use CDC educational posters.

Preserve Privacy: Remember to ensure the privacy of affected employees’ health information. Quell the rumor mill as much as possible.

Clean: Coordinate with your cleaning company and your own employees to implement  CDC recommended enhanced cleaning and safety precautions throughout your worksiteSee CDC recommended enhanced cleaning and safety precautions.

Protect: To protect he health and wellbeing of your employees and members of the larger community, consider the following:

  • Review your sick and leave of absence policies
  • Decide if you will temporarily revise or suspend normal policies and compensate employees who are affected by COVID-19 (themselves or family members) without using PTO, sick, FMLA or personal leave time. Consider that: 
    • You may need to temporarily stop requiring doctor’s notes due to inability to get into clinics
    • Unlike many viruses, the manifestation of COVID-19 illness may meet FMLA tests for a “serious health condition”
  • Use discretion when asking about employee’s health conditions or where employees have traveled– there is a risk that questions like these can be discriminatory or perceived as discriminatory
  • Consider enhanced cross-training of employees so that other employees can step in to perform job duties for employees who might be off work due to illness/quarantine (their own or a family member’s)
  • Determine which job positions can properly telecommute and which cannot
  • Implement social distancing of employees throughout the worksite, workday, and workweek
  • Update or verify that your computer systems enable employees telecommuting. Verify employees have appropriate internet access and technology knowledge to work remotely . Stress test your technology in advance. 
  • Keep up to date on travel restrictions and review the necessity for travel outside the office
  • Consider rescheduling social activities and large group meetings
  • Convert group meetings to video, rather than in person, format
  • Limit non-essential visitors to the worksite
  • Require telecommuting employee to keep all work on a network or shared drives

The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to assist and advise if you have questions related to managing the threat of COVID-19 in your workplace. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

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