My WordPress

HR Policies and COVID-19

hr policies covid19

Now that COVID-19 has passed, HR teams must consider how best to move forward. Reconsider their existing work policies and devise ways of supporting employees more effectively.

Minimize payroll errors with a central employee time tracking system that also prevents buddy punching, and ensure your team remains compliant with ACA, employment eligibility and tax documents.

1. Vaccination Requirements

Human resource leaders have the responsibility of assuring employee safety while meeting organizational goals and deadlines, such as implementing vaccination requirements, tracking employee sick leave hours, and keeping communication policies updated to account for new information about pandemic outbreaks.

HR should understand how COVID-19 vaccination policy could impede on current and potential new hires. While the Americans with Disabilities Act allows employers to conduct temperature checks, health screenings, and mandatory vaccines without violating any laws, such tests must still be job related and consistent with business necessity – for instance if they align with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration or state/local public health authorities.

ADA also mandates that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot be vaccinated or wear face coverings due to medically necessary, sincere religious beliefs or practices, or observances. If this situation arises, an employer could arrange for qualified individuals to work from another location such as home or at work; consider telecommuting arrangements; or consider other accommodations necessary for performing the essential functions of their jobs effectively.

2. Leave

As the pandemic evolves, it is paramount that employees receive adequate support and can return to work following illness. HR professionals must therefore ensure leave requirements comply with COVID-19 laws and regulations to facilitate this goal.

Since April, when the Families First Coronavirus Response Act came into force, employers now have flexible leave options available to them for employees undergoing quarantine due to insufficient vaccination or otherwise. They can utilize emergency paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave.

Some states go beyond federal law when it comes to leave provisions. New York requires employers to grant employees at least four hours of paid sick time in case of quarantine or isolation orders due to the presence of COVID-19.

As these policies can be so complex, HR teams should review existing policies and create an easily referenceable COVID-19 pandemic policy guide. Doing this will ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations for their company.

3. Remote Work

Though an ideal scenario would involve creating a remote work policy ahead of time, often this is not feasible during times of crisis. Therefore, HR teams must prioritize making sure employees understand expectations and offer support when working from home during COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

HR should ensure employees understand how to set realistic work hours that do not interfere with family obligations and reduce the risk of burnout. Long work hours at home increase the potential for work-family conflict while longer commutes add extra stress into employees’ lives.

Also, regular meetings may help employees maintain a sense of connection and accountability between team members despite working virtually. While some employees may dislike attending meetings under normal circumstances, many COVID-19 Pulse survey respondents reported daily huddles as helping them stay on task and productive. HR should create an avenue through which employees can share remote work best practices; such as via blog posting, intranet sharing or all-hands meetings/video conferencing.

4. Social Distancing

Social distancing is one of the best ways to combat coronavirus infection. This includes washing hands frequently, not touching faces or coughing into an elbow while at home and staying home if you feel sick. Furthermore, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating regular meals is crucial.

Compliance with social distancing guidelines may not always be easy for people. For example, many jobs require them to interact with the public on a regular basis and, should this be the case for your employees, plan for any possible changes in daily routine.

Noteworthy is the fact that attitudes are the main predictors of social distancing compliance, meaning public messaging will likely help people engage. It’s also essential to avoid targeting specific demographic groups with this message as entrenched attitudes are difficult to change. Our results demonstrate this point well.

5. Communication

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that HR has an essential role to play in devising people-centered strategies to reinvent work safety, time off policies, systems integration engagement and diversity and inclusion (DE&I). HR departments showed great resilience during this unprecedented crisis; showing they are ready to lead their organizations into these new policies with ease.

HR must keep abreast of the latest health and safety guidelines to ensure their policies meet requirements, while communicating to employees how vaccination programs, return-to-work policies and other workplace practices affect them.

HR should create a communication phone tree and other processes to enable employees to get answers for any inquiries they have about vaccines, infection control protocols or policies from HR. With so much misinformation circulating around social media and news sources, it’s vital that HR provide factual information to employees regarding vaccines, protocols or policies they need answers about.

Scroll to Top