Guest Posts

Coronavirus Resources for Employers: Navigating Compliance & Labor, Remote Work and Employee Well-Being

February 15, 2021
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Brett Ungashick
Founder

Find up-to-date information from the leading health and employment organizations about how to best navigate the coronavirus disruptions

Note: Neither I, nor OutSail, are experts in employment law. Any labor decisions should be made by directly consulting the resources provided by government agencies and / or engaging with a legally certified employment law expert.

Below is an up-to-date compilation of resources and information from trusted organizations on how employers can best navigate the disruptions caused by the coronavirus:

1.) Compliance & Labor Issues

CDC Guidelines for Employers: Link

Topics Covered: How to recognize COVID symptoms. Importance of flexible, non-punitive leave and WFH policies. Environmental and personal hygiene guidelines.

Department of Labor - FMLA Guidelines: Link

Topics Covered: FMLA eligibility guidance. Anti-discrimination policies when establishing new leave policies and when sending employees home. Doctor's notes. Changes to leave policies.

Key Takeaways: Even for covered employees, FMLA does not include preventative leave (avoiding the flu) or care giving to healthy family members (taking care of healthy children because school was dismissed).

You can legally ask for a doctor's note, but it's not suggested due to the current strain on medical resources. Requiring a doctor's note upon an employee's return to work is also acceptable and recommended

Department of Labor - FLSA Guidelines: Link

Topics Covered: Substituting 'volunteers' for workers. Forced vacation for salaried employees. Work not covered in job descriptions. Forced telework. WFH expenses.

Key Takeaways: Exempt, salaried employees are required to receive their full salary in any week in which they perform work, regardless of if they company is enacting forced vacation or leave without pay policies.

Employers can require telework, as long as it's non-discriminatory. In this scenario, salaried employees would receive their full pay. Hourly employees' rates can be altered but are still subject to minimum wage and time and a half policies.

Businesses cannot require employees to pay for their telework costs (additional phone lines, computer, internet access, etc.)

EEOC - ADA and Rehabilitation Act: Link

Topics Covered: Right to ask employees about symptoms. Requiring doctor's notes for return-to-work. Screening new hires for COVID-19. Delaying start dates or withdrawing offers due to COVID-19.

Key Takeaways: An employer has the right to withdraw an employment offer if a new hire is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.

Insperity - COVID-19 Guidance: Link

Topics Covered: Managing organizational risk. Reliable communication practices. Flexible work. Redundancy in critical operations. Navigating legal issues.

Key Takeaways: Possible legal challenges that Insperity foresees, include: Discrimination against age groups or geographies. Informing staff of infections while maintaining medical confidentiality. OSHA safe workplace requirements.


2.) Working from Home & Managing A Distributed Workforce

Harvard Business Review - Managing Your Newly Remote Workers: Link

Topics Covered: Common challenges of remote work. How managers can support remote workers.

Key Takeaways: Communication challenges increase greatly with remote work. Manager and employers need to be extra diligent to ensure employees have the right information and support.

OutSail - Staying Sane While Working From Home: Link

Topics Covered: Employee's emotional and mental experience when adjusting to WFH. How to separate work and home.

Key Takeaways: Adjusting to WFH can be more of a mental challenge than a technical one for employees. Individual employees should be proactive about creating boundaries between work and home.

Kickoff Labs - Best Tools For Managing A Remote Team: Link

Topics Covered: Best software tools for communication, project management, time management, security, rewards and file management.


3.) Employee Well-Being During A Crisis

Emplify - Employee Well-Being Assessment Tool: Link

Description: Emplify is an employee engagement and survey platform. They have recently created a free assessment tool that managers can send out to their employees to gauge each individual's response to the coronavirus disruptions.

Harvard Business Review - Communicating Through Coronavirus: Link

Topics Covered: Creating a cross-functional comms team. How to communicate with employees and customers. Reassuring stakeholders and communities.

Donut - Tool for Connecting Remote Colleagues: Link

Description: For free or $50/month, Donut can help distributed and remote teams build personal relationships with distant co-workers through their internal matching tool

MuseumHack - Virtual Teambuilding Activities: Link

Description: 11 free, or low cost, ways to build camaraderie amongst distributed teams

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Brett Ungashick
Founder
Brett is the founder of OutSail. He spent the early part of his career selling HR software before switching sides and going to work for the people buying the software.

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