By Eric D. Morton
Although vaccines are beginning to be distributed, we are going to have to live with the coronavirus for some time. Until enough people have been vaccinated to make a difference, everyone will still be required to wear masks and socially distance.
Many companies are considering re-opening or expanding the number of workers they have onsite. However, businesses that have workers onsite must comply with strict laws and regulations designed to prevent the spread of the virus. Businesses must ensure proper distancing, they must have a Covid Prevention Program, and they must provide for testing. Companies must also be able to reasonably accommodate employees who can’t work onsite for a variety of reasons.
Since the rules regarding operating a business with onsite employees are complicated, I won’t try to cover them in this article. The State and Federal government provide extensive guidance online and links to some of that information is below.
One important requirement is that all businesses with workers onsite must have a Covid Prevention Program. Here is a link to a model program provided by the State of California (clicking the link will download a Word file):
Model Covid Prevention Program
Below are links to two state websites of the California Department of Industrial Relations the provide detailed information on what is required of businesses with workers onsite:
Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards – What Employers Need to Know
Due to the health and employment problems related to the pandemic, several Federal laws also apply to employer/employee relations. The Federal government also has information about Federal laws that apply to employees and the pandemic. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website provides guidance:
What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
The failure to comply with the State and Federal laws can result in fines and claims by employees who become ill with Covid-19 due to exposure at work. Businesses that are contemplating having their workers onsite should plan carefully and seek the advice of a human resources expert or an attorney.
Eric D. Morton is the principal of Clear Sky Law Group. He can be reached at 760-722-6582, 510-556-0367, and firstname.lastname@example.org