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Business Operations Checklist

On May 8th businesses across Northwest and Northcentral Pennsylvania were permitted to restore in-person operations.  As businesses reopen, they confront a number of new issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  MacDonald Illig has sent out many client alerts regarding COVID-19 issues for businesses, including on the topics of Workplace Requirements Upon Reopening, OSHA Enforcement Guidance, and Expanded Employee Rights Under the FFCRA, to name a few.  Our previous alerts touch on many, but not all issues that an employer faces in reopening in-person operations. 

It is important to understand the legal framework that your business must comply with to reopen.  This legal framework includes both state and federal guidance, for example from the Governor, Pennsylvania Department of Health, CDC, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, and EEOC.  In addition to the applicable legal framework, employers are bound to face a number of new operational and practical issues in reopening their business.

Below is a check-list that our office has compiled of potential issues for a business to be aware of as it commences in-person operations.  This list certainly does not cover all issues that will arise, and is only meant as a useful tool for our clients to refer to during the process of navigating the issues arising from in-person operations.  We encourage you to review our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center for additional information on specific issues that may have been addressed in a prior client alert. 

Understand Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave
  • FMLA
  • Expanded FMLA
  • Interaction between applicable COVID-19 guidance and confidentiality laws, anti-discrimination laws, and EEOC rules
  • Understand wage and hour laws and be aware of potential issues if hours are reduced
  • Understand workers’ compensation issues related to COVID-19
  • Be prepared for and respond to accommodation requests
  • Understand OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements
  • Understand whistleblower protections
  • Understand notice posting requirements

Understand Workplace Safety Orders and Requirements

  • Make any required changes to the physical workplace
  • Social distancing guidelines
  • Interpret overlapping federal and state guidance, implementing the more stringent guidance in the event of a conflict

Administrative Issues

  • Conduct a risk assessment regarding the physical workplace, different job positions, etc.
  • Designate a Pandemic Response Officer
  • Draft or amend policies in response to the pandemic, including policies regarding: employee leave, working remotely, travel, expense reimbursement, training procedures, workplace conduct, etc.
  • Draft or amend plans in response to the pandemic, including plans regarding: getting back-to-business, emergency communications, emergency response, business continuity, cleaning and hygiene, etc.
  • Determine how procedures and protocols will change if an employee is exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19, including the circumstances under which that employee may return to work
  • Consider whether employee job descriptions should be amended, whether essential job functions have changed
  • Review your employee handbook and obtain employee acknowledgment of any changes

Prepare the Workplace

  • Determine whether the workplace must be re-engineered to operate consistent with mandated social distancing
  • Implement any safety barriers or devices required by regulation
  • Provide soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant for employees and in high-traffic areas
  • Source masks for employees
  • Implement social distancing measures
  • Restrict the use of shared equipment and workspaces
  • Post required notices
  • Implement enhanced cleaning protocols

Recall your Workforce

  • Understand employee and employer rights in recalling employees
  • If you are not recalling all employees, develop appropriate non-discriminatory business-related criteria to determine the order to recall employees
  • Communicate with employees regarding whether they plan to return to work
  • Communicate any changed expectations or alterations to the workplace or scheduling
  • Have a plan for when employees decline to return to work

Prepare Employees

  • Communicate new policies and safety measures to employees  
  • Encourage employees to inform HR if they are sick and to stay home
  • Communicate the company’s commitment to maintain a safe workplace

As your business reopens, you are bound to face both foreseen and unforeseen issues.  MacDonald Illig attorneys are here to help you throughout the process.  Please contact a MacDonald Illig attorney if we can help you navigate the process of reopening your business.