With the continued spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), employers should evaluate their preparedness and response to the virus and other workplace issues that may arise. It is important to take steps necessary to ensure business continuity and slow the transmission of the Coronavirus for the health of your employees, your communities, and society as a whole.
Business Continuity Plan: Develop a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan to ensure you will continue to have access to the resources and services you require. These plans should cover any contingency that might interrupt day-to-day business and be updated to account for new challenges caused by the Coronavirus.
Prevention: Cleaning and sanitizing efforts should be increased in the workplace. Employers should remind employees of standard precautions used to avoid the spread of respiratory viruses, such as washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or, if soap is not available, using hand sanitizer; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces and staying at home when sick. Employers should also advise employees who are sick should not return to work until they are free of a fever (100.4° or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines. Because the Coronavirus is a pandemic, employers may measure an employee’s body temperature to determine if the employee has a fever. Some employers are also considering allowing employees to work from home to prevent the further potential spread of the virus.
Notification of Illness and Self-Quarantine: Employers may require employees to notify Human Resources if the employee, a member of the employee’s household or a person they have been in close contact with is diagnosed with the virus. Employers must be mindful of privacy laws in disclosing information about an infected employee or others. Employers may also require employees who are ill and/or has been expose to someone with the virus to work from home or take a leave of absence, in accordance with CDC recommendations, to ensure the employee does not show symptoms of the virus. Employers may also require the employee to provide a fitness-for-duty notice to return to work. The leave of absence may be unpaid if the employee is not working during the period of leave. Employers must be mindful of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Florida Civil Rights Act which may be implicated if an employee or family member contracts the virus or is believed to have the virus.
Limiting or Restricting Travel & Working From Home: Employers should consider limiting employees’ non-essential business travel and attendance at non-essential functions or events outside the workplace. Employees who do travel or attend functions or events that may pose a risk of contracting the virus can be required to work from home or take a leave of absence as described above.
Responding to a Positive Diagnosis: If an employee contracts the virus, employers should contact the CDC and local health department but should be mindful of privacy laws. Employers should also ensure the entire workplace is professionally disinfected. Employers may inform other employees of potential signs and symptoms and offer to allow employees to expense their medical test, again while ensuring confidentiality of the diagnosed employee. Employers should also file any workers’ compensation claims necessary if the condition was contracted at work, while traveling for business or in relation to a work-related activity.
This is an unprecedented time for everyone, and the situation is changing daily. Cole, Scott & Kissane is fortunate that we can maintain business operations without business disruption. We are also fortunate to be able to assist the poor and elderly who are a necessary but sometimes forgotten group of people in our community thought to be most at risk with the Coronavirus. Cole, Scott & Kissane has contributed to Florida’s Food Bank network in order to provide them with essential needs. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event and we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments around the world who are on the front line working to contain the Coronavirus. For more information, please visit: https://www.feedingflorida.org/feeding-florida/florida-food-banks. We will continue to actively monitor the situation and share updates as needed. Please stay safe and thank you for your continued trust in us.
Employers who may have questions or need assistance are encouraged to contact CSK’s Employment and Labor Law Attorneys.
On March 5, 2020, CSK Tampa Partner Dan Shapiro presented a webinar to our client, Assured Partners, discussing the Coronavirus and its implications and risks on long term care. We are all focused during this important time on the Coronavirus. It is important to be informed, aware, and prepared in the weeks to come as to how to handle its potential entry into the workplace, and any effects long term care and our industry. The webinar included insurance and clinical teams and explored best practices and how to protect residents, staff, families, and assets. CSK would be honored to present this webinar to your office, if there is an interest. If you would like more information, please contact Dan at the numbers listed in his profile below.