The Spike in COVID-19 Cases and the Impact on the Workplace
As we enter the cooler months and the holiday season, COVID-19 positivity rates continue to rise across the nation. It is our expectation that the safety level of workplaces are now entering a critical phase.
We are advising employers to take stock of the effectiveness of their current COVID-19 protocols and policies, make any changes to ensure both business continuity and employee health and safety, and prepare now for what is certain to be a difficult close to 2020 and start to 2021.
- In the coming days College students will begin to return home for winter recess, increasing the likelihood of potentially exposing those in their household to COVID-19. We are advising that those who have the ability to shift to 100 percent remote work setups do so from November 23rd until December 14th. Closing your workplace during this period will limit the risks that may develop as a result of exposure to some with COVID-19 during the Thanksgiving holiday from unknowingly spreading the virus to others at the office.
- Employers should assume the same issues may be present around Christmas and the other December holidays. As such, a plan to revert back to a temporary office closure, or to keep offices closed and operating on a complete and total remote basis until at least January 11, 2021, is prudent.
- States have been rolling back their reopening guidelines and are implementing new shutdowns and restrictions, and a plan to do the same for offices continues to be a strong possibility throughout the U.S. As such, employers may have minimal notice for such a change. Employees should be encouraged to leave work each day with the assumption that they may not be able to return to the workplace, bringing all work and equipment home with them each day.
- As the volume of active COVID cases rise, schools across the country are beginning to shift to mostly distance learning, which will cause disruptions to home office productivity levels. We advise employers to get ahead of this now and communicate and work with employees with school-aged children on a plan for their work schedules and styles. It can be expected that the issues many working parents experienced last Spring may return.
- For those organizations with operations requiring employees to report to an office or any other type of workplace, this is the time to revisit and to tighten up all pandemic-related safety standards and protocols, including the enforcement of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing whenever possible.
- When employees do report to the office, it is strongly encouraged for employers to utilize an A/B team scheduling strategy. This approach will not only help employers adhere to the limited workplace capacities in many states, but also serves as a critical continuity tool should an employee be exposed to or test positive for COVID-19. When using this approach, team members from the same department and members of leadership should be split across different scheduling groups to ensure that if someone in the office tests positive, it does not cripple the entire operation.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will remain in place until December 31st, requiring certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Congress may choose to extend this legislation into 2021 (if they do, we plan to provide updated guidance). More information about FFCRA can be found here.
As always, our team is here to help. Should your organization require any guidance or support tied to business continuity or moving your business forward through the pandemic, please contact us at info@OperationsInc.com.