Taking Care of Your Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Smiling businesswoman working at office desk and writing down notes on a notebook

As more and more communities enact COVID-19 related restrictions, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest workforce regulations. We took a look at the latest legislation and created this guide for our customers in the United States to help you understand what you need to do as an organization to ensure that you taking care of your employees during these uncertain times.

Workforce Considerations 

If your workforce can work remotely and you haven’t already sent them home, health experts recommend that you move to a work-from-home model as soon as possible. We have lots of resources available to help make this transition more comfortable, including communication guides, publishable Appspace content, and best practices for working from home and video conferencing that can help keep your workforce on track. 

For those who are maintaining on-site operations, you may have to address one of your employees getting sick and coming to work. To help curb the spread of COVID-19, employees who experience symptoms must not come to work. If the symptoms appear during the workday, the employee should be distanced from others and sent home. 

What Should You Do If an Employee Has COVID-19 or Has COVID-19 Symptoms?

If an employee of your company develops COVID-19 symptoms, this employee should enter quarantine at the direction of a government agency or healthcare provider. If they live with others, those individuals should also self-quarantine. It is your job as an employer to notify employees of possible COVID-19 exposure in the workplace — especially those who’ve been in close contact with the person who tested positive. Employees who have close contact will need to self-monitor for symptoms. Remember, however, that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employee health information be kept confidential, so share the news of potential exposure with care. 

What Is My Organization’s Responsibility?

Your company probably has several HR-based policies around sick time, medical benefits, and paid time off that automatically pertain to an employee who has contracted COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Act, signed on March 18th, 2020, expands medical leave permissions and employer health education requirements. 

HIghlights of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Effective April 1st, this legislation applies to certain public sector employers and private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to childcare needs. 

All covered employers who fall under the criteria of the bill must adhere to the following: 

  • Employers must provide two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. 
  • Also, employers must provide two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work due to the need to care for a quarantined individual or care for a child under 18 whose school or care provider is closed.
  • For employees with a company at least 30 days, employers are required to provide up to an additional ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay when unable to work due to a need to leave to care for a child whose school is closed or childcare is unavailable due to COVID-19. 
  • All employers must display the requirements outlined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in a conspicuous place on their premises and/or distribute electronically for those employees working remotely. For those with Appspace-powered devices, we’ve created content that you can download and use for free here

There are other considerations that employers should consider due to the FFCRA. To learn about the legislation in its entirety and how it applies to you, visit the Department of Labor website.

Prepare for Workplace Absenteeism 

Because your organization is likely to see increased absenteeism, it is essential to prepare for potential considerations in advance. Start by planning for the continuity of tasks and projects. Cross-train teams to continue work without interruption or to deliver surge services depending on your industry. Most importantly, communicate. Keep your employees informed and up to date on absences that might affect their jobs. Allow breaks for those who may be picking up some of the slack. This will be a rough time, but with the right preparation and management, you and your team can get through it. 

Adapting to the changes in your workforce will be a challenge — this is why we’ve created this guide. For more information on the Families First Coronavirus act, click here, and for other workplace resources to get your organization through this pandemic, click here. Stay safe.