COVID-19 > Returning to Work
- What are some recommended best practices for reopening and returning to work?
Several resources may be helpful.
The first is a Checklist for Employers that comes straight from The Governors Report to Open Texas: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/5643634/Governor%20Abbott%20Report%20to%20Open%20Texas.pdf?utm_campaign=COVID%20Communications&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=87113993&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-90OKUxkQFTItomk-tPWrb8iDoTlbDCIU0VNAUMcobv_gaJhnlsoopvytbRrJY8IUKU_wNaIRxLpRNFbUMOGJiE7XBgJg&_hsmi=87113993
This checklist is found on pages 21–22. A couple of notes on the checklist:
- First, on page 22, the last item under “Health protocols for your employees,” it says that you could consider having all employees wear cloth face coverings. We interpret this to mean that you could choose to require them to do this at the office. If you do this, you may want to consider making these available to them so cost is not an objection.
- Second, the first item in the next section (“Health protocols for your facilities”), it says “Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect….” The frequency for doing so is not defined. This could be weekly or some other frequency for the time being until you know more. The key may be to state what your intentions are in writing and then follow those. Record if there are any complaints about the frequency and determine steps from there.
There does appear to still be some unresolved issues that could arise if there are differences between the Governor’s order and local municipalities. So far, San Antonio and Bexar County have indicated that they will operate consistent with the Governor’s order.
The most recent San Antonio/Bexar County report is found at the link below. This report does not provide specific dates, and indications are that their dates will be modified for the time being to be consistent with the Governor’s.
Phase 1 of the Governor’s order requires a limit of 25% occupancy of the maximum occupancy allowed under the office’s Certificate of Occupancy.
The following samples may help you communicate with your employees. We recommend that you modify the Notice of New Guidance to suit your purposes and include it with the other notices. Doing so illustrates for your employees how you will be protecting the workplace and that you intend to maintain a reasonable standard of care. Employees who refuse to come back to work following your notification could be terminated, or you could allow them to use their accrued PTO or consider granting temporary “unpaid leave” for some period of time.
- Notice: Reactivation of Employment
- Notice: Return to Full Employment
- Notice of New Guidelines for our Workplace (Sample)
The Notice of Reactivation of Employment is for use if you have some employees
- who have been laid off or furloughed or had hours reduced
- whom you would like to pay as a result of the SBA PPP Loan even though you are not ready to return them to full-time status
It simply indicates that you will communicate with them when it’s time to resume their work schedule, but they will be paid for the time being with a reassessment at the end 8 weeks.
- What do I do if I have reopened, and my folks were only off for 3 weeks, but now they do not want to come back to work? They would prefer to stay home and draw unemployment.
Per the TWC (COVID-19 FAQ website: https://www.twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/unemployment-benefits-services), you should report any job refusal. In Texas, you may send the information to [email protected] or call 1-800-252-3642.
- We have questions about getting our employee back to work. One employee has been out on disability and actually contracted COVID-19 while in the hospital having surgery three or four weeks ago.
Both CDC and EEOC have stated that when an employee has previously tested positive, an employer has a right to request the employee be tested and provide a physician’s statement prior to returning to work. The principle reason for this is the obligation the employer has to other employees and customers to maintain a safe workplace. Please find links below to CDC and EEOC.
Please note that this employee should have been eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave based on FFCRA.
- We have questions about getting our employee back to work. One employee has basically been under self-quarantine due to a number of pre-existing conditions and is wanting to come back.
If this employee felt he had been exposed to COVID-19, based on EEOC guidance you can actually require him to be tested prior to coming back to work. That is something you can choose to pay for or not. As testing becomes more prevalent, it may be possible for you to provide onsite testing at some point.
If he has been out on quarantine for 14 days and has not shown any symptoms, then the standard indicates he may be safe.
You can also require all employees to take their temperature prior to coming to work each day if you choose. They can take their temperature and send you a picture of it. Some employers are also purchasing no touch temperature devices so they can be used onsite.
- We are bringing our employees back to work at the office and would like to communicate with them about changes we’re making to our workplace policies. Do you have any suggestions for how we do that?
Below is a notice that you might consider communicating to your employees about possible steps you are taking or will take to help maintain a healthy workplace, including guidance to employees. You can modify this as fits your needs.