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Employment Law Alert – March 2020

By Labor & Employment

CORONAVIRUS SPREAD CREATES HR CONCERNS

Although the Coronavirus (COVID-19) originated in China, it has already spread to a number of other countries, including the United States. The Coronavirus has been referred to as a pandemic which reflects the belief that it will be widespread, but that label is not a statement about severity. The symptoms are similar to seasonal flu which employers have to deal with every year. Like seasonal flu, health authorities suspect Coronavirus is spread person-to-person. So it can spread from coughing, sneezing and touching surfaces contaminated by infected people including telephones, computers and doorknobs.

As initial Virginia Coronavirus cases have been reported, employers need to be prepared to deal with related workplace concerns. First, employees should be informed about Coronavirus and those policies that might be in place to deal with possible Coronavirus cases like existing sick leave, FMLA and paid time off policies. Employers may also have policies that are used to deal with workplace disruptions, in general, that may be helpful for HR and employees to get ready to use if necessary.

In any event, employers should be ready to effectively communicate with employees about all relevant policies and possible alternative work arrangements. Additionally, HR might consider a number of practical steps including the following:

  • prepare proper contingency plans for increased absenteeism;
  • encourage sick employees to stay home and send sick employees home;
  • encourage respiratory etiquette and good hygiene, especially hand washing and sneezing into a sleeve, not one’s hand;
  • ensure availability of tissues, wipes, and garbage cans; and
  • adopt other everyday preventative actions recommended on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here.

FYI

The above steps and more will be presented by a panel at the end of the day as part of the Richmond showing of the 36th Annual Employment Law Update to be presented at the Richmond Convention Center on April 2, 2020. This panel will include Dr. Danny Avula, who is the Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health District. A number of other timely topics will be presented in this day-long program and representatives from a number of relevant employment agencies will be participating along with the K&C Employment Team. Questions will be encouraged to make sure everyone in attendance will be more comfortable in dealing with any workplace concerns. To register, click here or call 757.624.3232.


The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts and circumstances. Copyright 2020.