According to Fisher Phillips, 894 employment litigations complaints have been filed since January 2020, with the most common case type involving remote work and/or leave conflicts. The top five states with the most complaints include California, New Jersey, Florida, New York, and Ohio/Texas (tied for fifth).
To help reduce employment-related litigation and other potential employee-related issues, here are some COVID and general business risk management best practices tips.
Emphasize employee health and safety. Prioritizing employee health and safety should be at the core of all risk management best practices. To regulate and track office and employee health and safety, employers with in-office staff should consider implementing daily temperature screenings. Regardless if already implemented or looking to implement temperature screenings, it is imperative that employers update company policies and procedures and immediately communicate such updates to employees.
There are a couple of ways for which employers may conduct daily health screenings:
- Employee self-reporting: From apps and no-touch temperature screening stations, to employer-provided no-touch thermometers, there are many different ways employers may allow employees to self-report their daily temperatures.
- Designated personnel: Designating an employee or medically trained individual to conduct and record employee daily temperatures near the entrance of the office building or workplace is another option. If conducted this way, make sure there is adequate space for physical distancing and deter crowding.
Another factor to consider is maintaining records of all individuals who visit the office or worksite. While most companies have safety protocols restricting for vendors, clients, and third parties from entering specific areas, it is also important for employers to ensure appropriate disinfecting and sanitation processes are followed.
To also prevent spread or potential exposure to COVID, employers should have proper safety protocols in place that align with public health and government recommendations. This includes physical distancing, limiting capacities for common areas (i.e., conference rooms, break rooms, restrooms), supplying personal protective equipment (i.e., face masks, hand sanitizer, tissues), reducing shared equipment use (i.e., coffee pots, silverware, cups), and ensuring disinfecting and sanitation is regularly conducted.
Create transparency through clear and consistent communications. Risk managers and supervisors should include COVID-related topics into team meetings and updates. Aside from risk management departments, all company efforts should be communicated directly to employees, clients, and other stakeholders to safeguard company safety practices. New employees should be thoroughly informed on company safety expectations and understand where to find additional resources and contacts to address any questions or concerns that may arise. Creating bulletin boards or e-newsletters can help foster awareness, company reminders of safety policies and procedures, and any updates as needed.
For employers who choose to implement health and/or safety screenings (i.e., daily temperature, pre-existing medical conditions for vulnerable populations) should keep in mind that they may not use any employee medical information in making employment decisions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has provided guidance on medical information employers may request during a public health crisis (i.e., COVID).
Maintain compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. Lastly, the best way to prevent employment-related litigation and workers’ compensation claims is to maintain compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. As many COVID-related litigation cases involving employees versus employers have dealt with remote work and leave conflicts, be sure to stay updated on the latest compliance laws.
To alleviate the burden of staying attuned to all potential risks, partnering with a PEO like Human Capital can work to an employer’s advantage. Human Capital risk management specialists undertake claims management, HR compliance, underwriting workers’ compensation, flexible payment options, and much more. Contact Human Capital today to learn more.