My WordPress

HR Policies for COVID-19 Compliance

hr policies covid19

HR professionals have a constant duty of responding to a myriad of COVID-19 concerns that keep evolving; such as new legislation, orders or guidance.

HR leaders must monitor finances and payroll closely post-pandemic to avoid costly errors that could arise as a result. A central employee documentation system can assist here as well.

1. Vaccination Policy

As a business owner, it’s vital that you consider how you will encourage and incentivize employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some businesses may require vaccination or even wear masks in the workplace as a safeguard measure.

While these strategies may be effective, it’s crucial to keep in mind the legal ramifications associated with any actions or policies proposed for workplace actions or policies. Before making any final decisions it would be advisable to consult an attorney or HR professional first.

If you decide to mandate vaccination, be sure that all employees understand your policy clearly and receive all of the relevant information to do so. Avoid asking follow-up questions about why an employee did not get immunized as this could be seen as gathering medical information about disability which violates ADA requirements for “job related and consistent with business necessity”.

If an employee requests a reasonable accommodation for vaccination requirements due to religious conviction or medical conditions, it’s crucial that you speak privately with them and offer options which allow them to work safely and productively within your company.

2. Leave Policy

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government bodies recommend that employees stay home when sick; however, many employees don’t have this luxury when caring for family or children. HR leaders should offer flexibility to their workers by permitting them to use COVID-19 leave as needed.

Prior to making any modifications to your company’s leave policy, be sure to understand its compliance with federal requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Multistate employers should be mindful that state or local laws may mandate or allow extra paid leave during an epidemic.

California law (FFCRA) mandates that companies offer up to 80 hours of additional COVID-19 leave each year, for qualified employees. This time can be taken in addition to accrued time off available. It must be requested within the timeframe stipulated in FFCRA or it won’t be approved; additionally, your policy needs to stay up-to-date as laws, regulations, guidance or company practices change.

3. Workplace Hygiene Policy

Work hygiene policies can help mitigate disease transmission in the workplace by mandating that employees regularly wash their hands and adhere to proper cough/sneeze protocol, such as when working in laboratories or high-risk environments. Masks may also be required depending on their working environments.

Workplace hygiene can be an extremely contentious issue that has serious ramifications on employee morale. Some employees may feel unnerved when their coworkers fail to dress neatly and in accordance with company standards; however, companies should only dismiss an employee for poor personal hygiene if it becomes disruptive to other employees or poses a health risk.

A workplace hygiene policy can ensure all work areas are clean and stocked with the appropriate materials, from germ-free kitchens and bathrooms to providing hand towels and disinfectants when necessary. There are various online resources that offer template workplace policies such as Lawpath, LegalVision and Sentriet; they also offer assistance with customisation and implementation if needed. A policy can help encourage healthy behavior at work while decreasing workplace absences.

4. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

RIT provides its Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as a service to help employees address personal or work-related matters that interfere with job performance or well-being, free and confidentially available to regular employees. It is provided through its Human Resources Department with management authorization recommending that an employee seek EAP services from trained EAP coordinator. In some instances managers can suggest employees for EAP assistance as well.

Research into employee wellbeing has demonstrated that EAP utilization increases during periods of high stress and anxiety; however, not all employees use it; typically below 50% use of an EAP is seen.

To increase EAP utilization rates, an effective EAP policy must include multiple elements. These factors include a strong work focus, manager training and involvement, linkages with external support services, as well as financial, emotional, spiritual wellbeing coverage. It should also ensure confidentiality so no information can be traced back to individuals – this will make the program more credible and accessible.

5. Remote Work Policy

An effective remote work policy is critical in creating an empowering and productive work environment when employees work flexibly. This policy should outline which roles and responsibilities are suitable for work-from-home arrangements as well as when staff should check in with their managers. Establishing this policy also removes any confusion over what employees should expect during working from home periods and provide clarity over any disciplinary actions that could ensue should any rules be broken.

Your remote work policy should address whether there will be any modifications to employee wages, rights and responsibilities, as well as expenses related to traveling to alternate working locations (for instance a hotel meeting room).

Establishing a policy around remote work can increase employee engagement by showing that your company takes it seriously. HR leaders should always start the policy off by explaining its purpose so as to persuade employees that this rule must be obeyed rather than seen as optional.

Scroll to Top