Employers' Return To Work Checklist - Practices and Policies

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Employers, as you plan for a safe return to work, there are several critical protocols and practices to consider. Below you will find a Return to Work (RTW) Checklist, created by the Kelley Drye Labor and Employment team to help you navigate getting back to work effectively.

PLANNING A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE RETURN: INITIAL STEPS

Identify a Return-to-Work (RTW) planning team or task force:

  • Include key decision-makers
  • Appoint a COVID officer to ensure compliance with polices and safety guidelines
  • Develop a “tracking” program: how will your company monitor and ensure that key milestones are met, policies are actually implemented, and being followed?

Develop a RTW Plan – must address:

  • Which employees will return first?
  • When they will return?
  • What is the criteria for return?
  • Who will, or will continue to, telework?
  • What medical clearance will you require?

Consider how will you deal with key issues, including:

  • Safety in the workplace

    • Lower employee “density” in office
    • Best office hygiene practices (social distancing, temperature checks, sanitizer, etc.)
    • How to handle day-to-day safety logistics
      • e.g., enforcing hygiene practices, handling sick employees in the workplace, and dealing with presence of third-parties on-site

Develop a communication plan

  • Who are the communicators?
  • Train communicators on new policies, procedures—and especially how to handle questions
  • Communicate new policies to employees (see below)

BEST PRACTICES FOR CREATING AND UPDATING COMPANY-WIDE POLICIES

KEY POLICIES FOR INITIAL RTW

Develop Employee Health Questionnaire

  • Require employee self-monitoring and reporting
  • Address the “when” and “how” of how employees must disclose potential exposure

Develop workplace screening policies

  • Train screeners
  • Ensure confidentiality of information gathered

Develop safety policies and notices:

  • Workplace hygiene
  • Social distancing
  • Procedures for outside visitors (vendors, clients, couriers)

Amend existing policies

  • Complaint reporting procedures
  • Disability accommodation processes
  • Harassment, discrimination, and retaliation

EXPOSURE IN THE WORKPLACE POLICIES

Establish a COVID-19 disclosure protocol

Direct sick employees to stay home

  • Amend sick leave and PTO policies

Develop Notice of Post-Exposure workplace clean-up

Develop standard training plan for handling sick employees and exposure

  • Cross-train supervisors and managers

LEAVE AND ACCOMMODATIONS POLICIES

Revise existing sick leave and FMLA policies to reflect changes in state and federal legislation

  • e.g., the FFCRA, which remains in effect until December 31, 2020

Update Accommodation Policies to account for COVID-19 related requests

  • e.g., work-from-home accommodation requests

TELEWORK POLICIES

Revise or implement teleworking policies, including:

  • Develop a standard for requests and approval of telework

Develop standard matrix to evaluate telework accommodation requests

  • For those who are approved to telework:
  • Develop standards for performance, hours, and expectations
  • Publish standards for office setup and security protocols
  • Amend disciplinary policies to address telework concerns

    • e.g., Security violations, breach of confidentiality, and time theft

Implement teleworking guidelines for managers:

  • Communicating with teleworking staff
  • Monitoring and documenting performance

Develop NEW workplace policies:

  • Hygiene
  • Self-monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms
  • Social distance
  • Meeting limits
  • Travel limitations
  • Use of Sick leave and PTO

FOSTERING TRUST AND NEW EMPLOYEE BEHAVIORS

Communicate regularly with employees regarding the issues that matter:

  • Safety practices
  • Reporting employee concerns
  • Policy amendments
  • Updates on COVID-19 workplace matters

Establish a central source (website, weekly email, call-in) for employee check-ins

  • e.g., telework request forms, FFCRA Notice, and time-keeping policies

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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