What to Consider Before Employees Return to the Workplace

Bringing employees back to the workplace during and after the COVID-19 pandemic will not be “business as usual.” Most workplaces will experience both short- and long-term changes. While the specifics will be different for each industry, there are some common considerations for all businesses, which are addressed below.

When and how do we facilitate a return to work?

  • Has your business changed and are you making changes to the delivery of services or products?
    • Have you completed a revised 12-month forecast to align with expectations from your customers?
    • Will you need less office space or more?
    • Will you need less staff or more?
  • In determining which positions are needed to be staffed and when:
    • Use a neutral selection criterion to determine which employees will be brought back.
    • Consider which employees can and should continue to work remotely. These can be determined based on the type of work performed as well as accounting for those that are in high-risk health categories.
  • Employees returning to work who have been furloughed or laid-off should be notified in writing with a notice to return. This notice should include information regarding return date, updates regarding pay, benefits if they have changed, new safety protocols and policies, and an at-will employment notice.

What are the key considerations in developing new policies?

  • Determine if employees can continue to work remotely either full- or part-time and develop a remote work policy for those who can.
  • Determine what protocols will be required in the office. These could include pre-work temperature checks, cleaning/disinfecting policies, and guidelines on face coverings.

Are changes required for the physical layout of your office?

  • Redesign cubicles, breakrooms, and conference rooms to ensure six feet of distance between employees.
  • Ensure that the work environment promotes personal hygiene. For example, provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfectants, and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces.

What needs to be posted in the workplace?

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) poster.
  • City specific postings – in San Diego County it is the Safe Reopening Plan (available at www.sandiegocounty.gov).
  • Specific industries also have required postings.
  • Prior to opening, pre-determine where to add postings.

What should be reviewed regarding compensation?

  • Review if there were or will there be compensation changes for employees.
  • Determine if employee status changes are needed —from exempt to nonexempt or full- to part-time status —to reopen. While closed or working remotely, did you make changes to an employee’s status and/or responsibilities? With returning to work, do you need to change the employee’s status again?
  • Ensure hourly staff is compensated for additional time that may be required onsite due to new safety and physical distancing protocols.

On Wednesday, May 20, PBO Advisory Group will be hosting a webinar with Fisher Phillips, a leading labor and employment law firm. We will be discussing employment issues surrounding returning to the workplace. Watch your email inbox for an invitation to attend the event, including the specific details. To be added to our email list, click here.

PBO Advisory Group can help you navigate through your HR, financial and operational considerations as you are developing your return to work policies and procedures. To set up a complimentary call with one of our HR specialists click here or email Laura Nieman at Laura@pboadvisory.com.