Gregory Bombard, a Boston-based partner at law firm Duane Morris LLP, recommends employers don’t wait until an employee has coronavirus to figure out what to do about it.
“Waiting until one of your employees is diagnosed with coronavirus or gets quarantined is not the best possible strategy that you could put in place,” Bombard said. “You want to be getting a plan in place today, so that when that happens, you know what to do.”
Bombard is a member of a group of 15 lawyers the firm has made available to answer questions related to the coronavirus from their clients, from an employment and health law standpoint. Here are the top three things he recommends employers and their HR departments do now.
Have an action plan in place. Health and safety should be the primary motivating factors of any decision, which should be promptly communicated to employees. The plan should answer questions like, “How to determine whether an employee is at risk” and “Under which circumstances might employees be asked not to come to the office.”
Have a senior level manager in charge of travel decisions. “One thing we’re recommending is that every business, to the extent feasible, appoints a senior level management employee to be what you could call a ‘travel czar’ — somebody who’s going to make the decisions about whether business travel is necessary and safe,” Bombard said.
Make sure your employees have the tools to work remotely. When possible, employers should encourage work from home, or flexible work arrangements. “I mean, it’s just a good business idea. You keep your employees happy, you keep the potential risk of spreading the infection down,” Bombard said. With one warning: “You want to be ensuring that decisions about who can work from home and when are being made in an objective way — another reason to have a plan in place ahead of time,” he added.
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