How to Handle Workplace Safety During Coronavirus
In this week’s episode of Peter’s Proffer, host Peter Tragos and co-hosts George Tragos & Peter Sartes talk about their list of 5 don’ts for employers in the workplace.
Just like everything else COVID-19 related, there is a lot of information out in the media, but not a lot of answers. That’s why the lawyers of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos compiled a list of some of the most important key items not to do in the workplace and some alternatives.
Following these simple guidelines will help you navigate the legal aspect of decision making during the pandemic and set employees up for success.
Top 5 DON’TS for employers in the workplace
1. DON’T unequally force testing or ask COVID specific questions to certain individuals
You can, however, ask ALL employees to get tested or receive a temperature check. As long as you are not singling out specific employees and keeping their medical information confidential you have the right to put these safety measures into practice.
2. DON’T force high-risk people to stay home during the coronavirus
You can give the employee options to help accommodate their needs, but you cannot force them.
3. DON’T reveal medical information for anybody that works as an employee at your workplace
HIPAA rules have not changed during the pandemic, and it’s incredibly important that you familiarize yourself with these rules to protect your employees’ rights.
If someone in your company has confirmed positive for the virus, you cannot tell the employees that the person has the virus. However, you can tell them there has been a possibility of exposure in the workplace.
The same thing goes for temperature checks. You can offer this procedure in a public area, but if someone refuses to have it done there needs to be options for a private temperature screening to protect their rights and your business.
4. DON’T delay payment for sick leave because of COVID-19
The CARES Act applies to emergency paid sick, which means employers can be immediately reimbursed by the government for paying for employees on leave because of the coronavirus.
5. DON’T make employment decisions based on COVID-19 probability
You cannot ask discriminatory questions like “Have you been to New York & Florida?” because those are known hotspots. You also can’t ask questions about weakened immune systems that would not affect the hiring process normally.
All of these 5 important don’ts for employers center around the fact that you should not let the coronavirus ruin your business because it took over your decision-making. The virus cannot be at the forefront of every business decision. Although you should and want to provide a safe environment, you also need to be fair and equal to all employees.
We hope you learned some important things from the podcast episode (and this blog post to coincide). Don’t forget to like, comment or share our podcast. You can find us at @tragoslaw on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.