COVID-19: What Employers Can do Now – Part 2.

Well, things have changed just a bit since I last posted on this subject, so here is what we are going to do.  In this post I am just going to give the links to the most up to date information we have from the CDC, OSHA, the DOL and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  In later posts we will talk about what else is happening, including the bill currently before Congress.

So, here are the links to the most up to date information from the various government agencies:

The CDC’s resources for Businesses and Employers is here:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html

This link to the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers is here:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

We also have Interim Guidance from OSHA, both generally and for employers, that you can find here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html, and here: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf, respectively.

The current FAQs from the DOL which you can find here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

Finally, you will want to check out the EEOC’s guidance on the ADA, the Rehab Act and the Coronavirus here:  https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/wysk_ada_rehabilitaion_act_coronavirus.cfm, which links to the Guidance the EEOC issued during the H1N1 pandemic here:  https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html

Don’t forget, when you are thinking about conducting medical tests, like taking all employees’ temperatures, this guidance says: 

Direct threat is an important ADA concept during an influenza pandemic.

Whether pandemic influenza rises to the level of a direct threat depends on the severity of the illness. If the CDC or state or local public health authorities determine that the illness is like seasonal influenza or the 2009 spring/summer H1N1 influenza, it would not pose a direct threat or justify disability-related inquiries and medical examinations. By contrast, if the CDC or state or local health authorities determine that pandemic influenza is significantly more severe, it could pose a direct threat. The assessment by the CDC or public health authorities would provide the objective evidence needed for a disability-related inquiry or medical examination.

During a pandemic, employers should rely on the latest CDC and state or local public health assessments. While the EEOC recognizes that public health recommendations may change during a crisis and differ between states, employers are expected to make their best efforts to obtain public health advice that is contemporaneous and appropriate for their location, and to make reasonable assessments of conditions in their workplace based on this information.

Which gets us to what is going on at the state level.  That is important too. For those of us in Michigan, the State has a website for here:  https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus

You should also check out this News Release from the State https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98158-521463–,00.html, which links to a PDF MDHHS, Interim Recommendations for COVID-19 (final).pdf

This last link from the State has the following current recommendations for workplaces:

  1. Encourage employees to stay home when sick and to notify supervisors of illness.
  2. Communicate and reinforce best practices for washing hands covering coughs and sneezes.
  3. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, and light switches.
  4. Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily accessible throughout the workplace.
  5. Encourage staff to tele-work when feasible, particularly individuals at risk of severe illness
  6. Implement social distancing measures as feasible, including limiting in-person meetings.
  7. Limit large work-related gatherings, (e.g., staff meetings and after-work functions).
  8. Limit non-essential work travel.
  9. Cancel or postpone large gatherings, conferences, and sporting events (e.g., greater than 100 people in a shared space).
  10. Discourage employees from eating meals in a large group setting such as a cafeteria
  11. Tailor continuity of operations plans to the COVID-19 threat.

That is it for now, but we will have more as it becomes available.