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Utah Business

Looking forward: how to manage your workforce in 2020 and beyond

COVID 19 has changed our world including the relationship between employers and employees. Below, we discuss common mistakes employers are making in managing their workforces during the pandemic.  

COVID-19 operating plan

Mistake #1  Failure to create a comprehensive COVID-19 Operating Plan to govern ongoing operations. Whether a modified version of the business’s initial reopening plan or a new plan, the Operating Plan should address, in detail, physical space, personnel and policies as well as operations during the pandemic to maintain physical distance, prevent the spread of COVID-19 and alter or implement additional policies. The plan should also identify a coordinator in charge of implementing the plan and coordinating ongoing operations and employee issues.  

Personal protective equipment (PPE) policies

Mistake #2  Failure to implement or enforce COVID-19 PPE policies, including requiring face-coverings. PPE policies should comply with state, federal and local guidance, including guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and local health departments. PPE policies are designed to limit the risk of exposure when appropriate physical distancing is not possible by requiring non-medical masks or other face coverings such as a face shield. Difficulty maintaining appropriate physical distance and emerging knowledge regarding the transmission of the coronavirus make facial covering requirements as part of a PPE policy imperative. 

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Protocol for a positive COVID-19 test in the workplace

Mistake #3 Failure to have a protocol in place for employees, customers or other guests who test positive for COVID-19 while in the workplace. A critical component of the protocol after a positive COVID-19 test result is contact tracing. Employers should attempt to identify employees, customers and business partners who may have been exposed. Employers should contact their local health department immediately to begin working to notify people who have potentially been exposed. If system delays preclude immediate contact, health departments suggest employers immediately begin contact tracing in order to notify those exposed and begin quarantines to help curb the spread of COVID-19.   

Develop and distribute FFCRA leave policies 

Mistake #4 Failure to comply with new COVID-19 leave policies. The FFCRA creates new leave rights for employees related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These leave rights include: 

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to a Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider); or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to a Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

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In addition, an employee who has worked for an employer for at least 30 days is entitled to up to 10 additional weeks of pay at two-thirds his or her regular rate of pay, to stay at home to care for a child whose school or day care has closed because of COVID-19. There are potential exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability, if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.  

Employers should develop policies outlining an employee’s rights under the FFCRA and how those rights will be administered. The regulations governing implementation of the FFCRA provide employers with some flexibility in administering leave rights. Creating policies regarding FFCRA leave is critical to maximize employer’s options in managing FFCRA leave requests. 

With COVID-19 cases increasing in Utah, FFCRA leave rights will be an ongoing issue for employers over the next several months.      

For more information, contact Sean Monson smonson@parsonsbehle.com or Susan Baird Motschiedler smotschiedler@parsonsbehle.com

Sean A. Monson is the chair of Parsons Behle & Latimer's employment and labor department and his practice focuses on employment counseling and litigation and real estate litigation and transactions. Susan Baird Motschiedler is a member of the firm's employment and labor and litigation practice groups.

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