The country, and most of the world, is in the grip of the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. While we are all focused on personal health and safety, business owners have the added burden of protecting their businesses in this uncertain time. It is important to concentrate on implementing safety procedures in your business, while understanding all of the legal ramifications.
As a business owner, you have the responsibility of adhering to employment law, even in times of crisis. Employers must follow best practices and follow public health advice to endure the safety of their employees while at work, and be prepared to make reasonable accommodations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance for employers to prepare strategies that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the event that complications from COVID-19 are labeled as a disability. During a pandemic, employers can:
- Ask whether employees are experiencing flu-like symptoms and send employees home. Employers can require employees to stay home for 24 hours.
- Take employees temperature to determine if fever is present.
- Ask if employees have taken trips to areas where COVID-19 is present.
- Make a disability-related inquiry or require a medical examination if the employer believes the employee’s medical condition threatens the health and well-being of fellow workers.
Any information gathered from the employee must be kept confidential and separate from their employment file.
What About Pay?
This is the main question on the minds of every worker. During the pandemic, if workers have the ability to work from home, how do you ensure correct hours are being logged? Employers should have a system in place to allow non-exempt workers to properly log their hours and submit to payroll. The law concerning exempt employees is different. Exempt employees must be paid the same weekly salary regardless of hours worked.
Uncertainty during a pandemic can be frightening, but by carefully abiding by the law, it is possible to weather the storm and emerge strong and secure. If you have any questions regarding employment law, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Plunkett, Hamilton, Manton & Graves, LLP. We are here to help you navigate through any questions you may have. Visit us here or call 706-650-2100.
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