Returning Employees to Work During COVID-19

Ventura County is entering Stage 2 of California’s Resilience Roadmap. That means office-based businesses are now being permitted to reopen; however, before doing so business owners must be sure that they can affirmatively answer the following four questions:

  1. Is re-opening consistent with applicable governmental orders?
  2. Can the business implement the recommended health and safety actions?
  3. Can the business conduct ongoing monitoring?
  4. Have you registered with the County of Ventura?

In order to satisfy the above criteria, businesses must implement the following, prior to reopening their doors:

Develop and implement a COVID-19 Prevention Plan

To satisfy the above criteria, businesses must implement a workplace plan of action prior to reopening its doors. Employers must have a written “worksite-specific COVID-19 Prevention Plan” that must be posted throughout the workplace. There must also be at least one employee whose sole job is to make sure that the Prevention Plan is being followed.

Social-Distancing Requirements

Employers should promote, encourage, and enforce social-distancing rules, such as complying with 6-feet of social-distancing at all times and limiting the number of employees in one workspace (cubicles, warehouses, open spaces, mail room, etc). Other steps should include removing or blocking common area seating, limiting, or prohibiting non-employees from coming into the worksite (including spouses, rides, friends, and customers/clients when possible). Following this practice will keep the number of people in a given location at a minimum.

If employees eat on site, provide an adequate number of tables to meet social-distancing requirements. Employees who are friends should not pull up additional chairs, etc. Encouraging employees to eat outside will also limit the number of people sitting together during rest breaks. Remember to provide adequate shade, water, and access to the building.

Enforcement will require the business owner to be proactive and attentive to things that they may have taken for granted in the past. Enforcement includes notifying employees that they will be disciplined for violating the workplace social-distancing polices and posting the requirements in obvious places.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting the workplace will require businesses to provide sanitizer stations and sanitary hand wipes. Reducing the risk of exposure, such as sanitizing desks, tabletops, work-stations, and keyboards – especially if employees share workstations or computers – is an important part of reopening. New signage, such as “Wash Hands” should be numerous and in visible locations (entrances, bathrooms, inner office doors, elevators, keycard scanners, etc.).

Facemask Requirement

If your business is requiring the use of facemasks for people entering your place of business, post adequate signage and provide notice when possible. Consider having facemasks available. Do not put employees in a position to enforce the facemask requirement. Have a system in which employees can notify management or security.

If you require facemasks in the workplace, make sure they are not cloth.

Remote Work and Staggered Shifts

Let employees work remotely when possible or stagger work shifts, alternating remote and office on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday and Thursday. Staggered rest breaks and staggered meal breaks do not violate California Labor Code.

If you are an employer and need help with implementing the proper return-to-work procedures, or if you have questions, please contact an experienced employment law attorney at Schneiders & Associates today!

By: Chris Correa, Esq.

Other Resources:

WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance-publications?healthtopics=b6bd35a3-cf4f-4851-8e80-85cb0068335b&publishingoffices=aeebab07-3d0c-4a24-b6ef-7c11b7139e43&healthtopics-hidden=true&publishingoffices-hidden=true

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf (brochure)

DOL: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

Ventura County: https://www.vcemergency.com/vc-reopens (attestation forms for reopening and forms for Prevention Plans)

Authorities: World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor (DOL), Ventura County Emergency (VCEmergency)