Kahana & Feld has assembled tips and guidance for employers to consider for reopening the workplace. This part addresses labor and employment matters. Part 2 will address other business considerations.

Labor and Employment

→ Monitor and comply with return-to-work safety guidelines and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the State of California Department of Industrial Relations – Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

→ Implement safety protocols by utilizing employee health screening procedures, providing personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting the workplace, and establishing physical distancing measures.

→ Plan for how and when employees will return to work, including creating a plan for employees in high-risk categories for infection to return to work.

→ Notify the California Employment Development Department of employees recalled back to work. (This is a state requirement and will help save on unemployment taxes for those who choose not to return to work.)

→ Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:

  • Train employees on new workplace safety, cleaning, and disinfection protocols that have been implemented.
  • Have exposure response communications ready to go to any affected employees and customers.
  • Have communications prepared for the media regarding company safety protocols and employee support in the event there is workplace exposure.
  • Send a written memo to all employees reminding them that blaming or harassing any ethic or national origin group due to COVID-19 violates company workplace policies will not be tolerated and could be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
  • Train employees regarding the company’s COVID-19 related policies, benefits, procedures, and processes so that employees know what is expected of them and what they can expect from the company.
  • Train managers and supervisors on revised policies, procedures, and protocols.

→ Conduct a comprehensive review and update of existing policies and procedures that will be impacted by the lifting of workplace restrictions and concurrent federal, state, and local COVID-19 directives, such as:

  • Ensure the employee handbook is updated to reflect new laws and rules, such as accommodations based on EEOC guidance and emergency paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Adjust paid-leave policies to reflect regulatory requirements and actual business needs.
  • Relax attendance policies, as much as practical, to encourage sick employees to stay home.
  • Clarify time-off request procedures to indicate when time off can be required by the employer, should sick employees need to be sent home.
  • Implement flexible scheduling options allowing for compressed workweeks and flexible start and stop times.
  • Adjust meal and rest break policies to stagger times and processes implemented to encourage physical distancing.
  • Update travel policies to reflect essential versus nonessential travel and the impact of domestic or global travel restrictions.
  • Detail telecommuting (telework) policies to reflect the type of work that can be done remotely and the procedures for requesting telework arrangements.
  • Revise information technology policies to reflect remote work hardware, software, and support.

Listen to our webinar Back to Basics: Considerations for Reopening the Workplace.