April 27, 2020

How To Prepare Your Operations For The Economy’s Relaunch

According to experts at the law firm Kelley-Drye, although the United States and Canada are “still in the thick of the COVID-19 crisis, this is exactly when employers … should be developing a careful, considered plan to bring their workforces back.” For businesses that are not fully online or that have not been deemed “essential,” the firm recommends going slow, with a “safety first attitude.”

Specifically, Kelley-Drye recommends these companies:

  • Consider a phased approach. Bring back employees in small groups or “waves” to minimize the risk of infection. This could include alternating when employees can come in, redesigning open floor plans temporarily to allow employees to spread out, or installing partitions between workspaces.
  • Consider temperature checks. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has authorized temperature checks at work. Three points to consider, however: do not attempt to obtain more information than is necessary (employers do not need a full medical history); continue to keep all information private (conduct screenings outside of view of others); and remember that a temperature check reveals someone’s temperature, not the presence of a virus. Send employees with temperatures home and tell them to seek a medical diagnosis.
  • Consider waiting. Employers should take caution in opening their offices at a time when the outbreak is still at an all-time high and remember that short-term economic gains can easily be lost if, longer-term, renewed COVID-19 transmissions puts half of a workforce in quarantine.

Other resources that might be of interest to companies contemplating these questions include:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance on personal protective equipment.
  • This National Association of Manufacturers’ webinar, which outlines best practices for preparing operations for a return to work, as well as what companies can do to ensure employees are confident that facilities are safe and ready for business.
  • NAM’s proposals for protecting employers from liability for COVID-19-related lawsuits.