Employers must contend with many issues that occur outside of the workplace and out of their control. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, “2019-nCoV” or COVID-19, is a perfect example of why every employer should have a pandemic preparedness program in place for the safety of their employees.
Novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory infection caused by a new strain of coronavirus. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019″ (abbreviated COVID-19”.) For more detailed background on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Resource Center, where ReedGroup has provided free access to MDGuidelines’ COVID-19 guidelines, “COVID-19 Guidance for Business And Employers.”
How Should Employers Respond to COVID-19?
Employers should assess exposure risks on a case by case, using sensitivity and good judgment, to determine if an employee needs to remain out of the workplace for a period of time due to COVID-19 exposure. An employer may also want to review their virtual or work from home policies to see if they would be applicable for these situations.
It is important that cases be assessed individually and that any employer protocols be implemented consistently across the organization. The employee may be entitled to certain protected leaves under the company’s own internal leave programs, so a thorough review of the applicable leave policies should be conducted.
Respect for the employee’s privacy is also very important, so any applicable policies in this regard should be reviewed as well.
There are also legal implications. Employees impacted by the virus, may be entitled to protections under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as myriad state and municipal leave laws. The employer’s human resources and legal departments should be engaged to review its leave policies to determine the protections impacted employees may have.
Employers can remain up to date on the leave impacts and other workplace considerations regarding COVID-19 by checking the resources on ReedGroup’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the impacted regions. Employers should review their travel requirements and determine if business travel is necessary at this time. Using sensitivity and good judgement, employers may encourage employees who have recently returned or been in contact with persons returning from regions reporting high caseloads to follow the CDC guidelines on how to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.
As events continue to change and as more information develops, employers should remain current by referencing the Centers for Disease Control website. Additionally, if you’re looking for assistance managing claims or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Check out our offerings here.
What ReedGroup is Doing
ReedGroup is working with its clients to ensure employees who are facing concerns regarding COVID-19 are appropriately routed to their employer, and the applicable leave or pay policies are granted. Please contact your account executive with any specific questions regarding your program.
For More Information
- General information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019
- Travel Advisories: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019/travelers/communication-resources.html
ReedGroup is sharing this information in conjunction with the leave management services it provides to its clients. ReedGroup is not engaged in rendering public health activities or services and is only providing this in response to the health risks this event may pose to its client’s employee population.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.