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COVID-19 Employer Checklist
March 23, 2020
1)  Publish, circulate, and implement the latest CDC, local health department, and OSHA pronouncements on maintaining a healthy worksite and make sure you are stocked on essential product (soaps and sanitizers).
2)  If you plan on allowing essential vendors and other visitors to continue coming onto your property, implement a visitor policy that:
  • Requires visitors to acknowledge they have not come into contact with anyone at risk,
  • Are not showing upper respiratory symptoms,
  • Will leave at the first sign of upper respiratory symptoms and report such symptoms to you, and
  • Will comply with CDC best practices while on your property.
3)  Implement an emergency attendance policy that:
  • Promotes telework to the extent possible,
  • Instructs employees to self-quarantine if they show upper respiratory symptoms or have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Permits testing for temperature of employees,
  • Prohibits non-essential travel to any heavily infected area,
  • Relaxes normal absence limits for COVID-19 related reasons, and
  • Adopts the Federal Emergency Paid Leave provisions to the extent they apply to your business.
4) Prepare a plan for how to respond if an employee contracts COVID-19 that:
  • Includes necessary contact information for the CDC, local health department, and hazmat company,
  • Informs other employees of potential symptoms and right to payment for testing (including through health insurance),
  • Considers workers’ compensation claims necessary if the condition was contracted at work or during a work-related activity, and
  • Offers the employee the ability to work from home or leave in accordance with established policies.
5)  Identify essential functions that are needed to operate, including how many people are needed to perform those duties and who those people are (in preparation for period of heavy absences).
  • Consider suspending or restricting vacation leave
6) If you need to reduce headcount, consider:
  • Short-term furlough with the expectation of recall, but first:
    • Remember salaried exempt employees must be paid full salary if they work at all,
    • Determine if this would impact entitlement to benefits, and
    • Know that employees may be entitled to low-earnings unemployment
  • Pay Reductions, but first:
    • Know that pay reductions cannot be retroactive, and
    • Determine if a reduction would trigger an automatic severance in an employment agreement.
  • Permanent Lay-offs, but first:
    • Determine the criteria to use, making sure that standards are legally defensible,
    • Check for WARN Act issues, and
    • Remember to provide COBRA notices.
7)  Ensure your health plan will provide no cost coverage for COVID-19 testing without pre-approval.
8) If your employees are unionized and you plan to reduce headcount or change any policies, then, before implementing any of these actions, you should:
  • Review and evaluate whether your collective bargaining agreement reserves flexibility for unilateral changes during emergencies or covers any potential changes,
  • Assess bargaining obligations for any changes mandated by government orders or exigencies and develop priorities for proposals to maintain operation and flexibility, and
  • If you are obligated to bargain with the union concerning any changes to headcount or policies, notify the union as soon as possible before implementing any proposed changes and give it an opportunity to bargain. If it is not possible to inform the union before implementing a change, do so as soon as possible after implementing the change.
9) Coordinate with IT to minimize risk of COVID-19 scams and protect your intellectual property if employees are working remotely.
Labor & Employment Law Eric E. Kinder