All of us are being inundated by rapidly changing news and tons of advice about COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. For those whose job it is to keep workplaces safe and healthy, here are two key resources to cut through the clutter.
New OSHA guidance. Earlier this week, OSHA released an updated, detailed guide: Guidance on Preparing Workplace for COVID-19. It is a comprehensive and helpful document that provides key, basic background on the virus and how to protect your workforce. It provides a good overview of assessing risk in your workplace and developing approrpriate response plans and policies. Helpfully, it helps you determine which jobs should be classified as low, medium, or high/very high risk and advises what to do in each case. It’s a solid background document as you prepare and revise your policies.
Answer you won’t find in OSHA’s guide. As helpful as it is, OSHA’s guide won’t answer all your questions. There are some tough balancing acts between limiting spread of the virus on the one hand and protecting worker privacy and respecting various employment laws on the other. To answer those difficult questions, our Husch Blackwell Labor and Employment group has compiled a thorough FAQ on Workplace Issues and COVID-19: Health Inquiries, Medical Exams and Exclusions from the Workplace.
It covers questions like:
- Are you limited in how you respond to COVID-19 by the ADA or Title VII?
- Can you ask about an employee’s absence from work or send a visibly sick employee home?
- Can you inquire about an employee’s personal travel history, including location and duration?
- Can an employer prevent employees from traveling for personal reasons?
- Can you require medical exams for employees or job applicants?
- Can employers test workers for fevers?
- Can you exclude from the workplace employees who exhibit flu-like symptoms?
- Can employees refuse to travel or to report for work?
- When is a face piece required as personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees?
Check out the full FAQ here, and stay tuned for further installments.