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Best Practices for Employers' COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans

April 16, 2020
Labor and Employment Law Advisory

Coronavirus graphicThe coronavirus outbreak has caused many employers to rethink their ability to respond to widespread pandemic affecting their employees and workplace operations. Specifically, the outbreak has caused employers to scramble to develop and adopt policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of their workers during times of unprecedented uncertainty. Additionally, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-42 requires businesses, operations and government agencies that are continuing in-person work to adhere to social distancing practices and measures, which include developing a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan consistent with recommendations provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. One portion of this plan is to develop a confirmed coronavirus case procedure by which an employer can ensure prompt identification and isolation of sick employees, while maintaining a safe work environment. The below outlined case procedure generally addresses these concerns.

  1. Employees should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure.
  2. When an employee reports signs or symptoms of COVID-19, the employee should not show up to conduct in-person work and should notify their direct supervisor immediately.
  3. If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, he/she should notify the HR director (or other applicable individual) immediately.
  4. The HR director (or other applicable individual) should inquire into the following areas of the employees situation:
    • Ask about current health status.
    • Ask about emotional state.
    • Answer health insurance questions.
    • Answer other benefits related questions.
    • Ask about other resources or assistance employer can provide.
    • Ask for information about when and where the employee had been in the past several days and for a list of other personnel with whom he/she has had contact.
  5. Employer should notify all relevant personnel, including employees, customers, vendors, etc., with whom the diagnosed employee has come in close contact. Employer should request all personnel who have been in close contact with the employee self-quarantine for 14 days.
  6. Employer should notify all employees of the fact that an employee (who shall remain anonymous) has tested positive for COVID-19. This message shall include the following:
    • Reminder to all employees of CDC and local health department testing guidelines.
    • Reminder to all employees of policies and procedures that have been put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
    • Acknowledgement of the emotional impact this news and all COVID-19 news is having on members of employer's organization, and encourage employees to contact their supervisors with any questions or concerns.
  7. Employer should arrange for a thorough cleaning of the areas of employer's facilities that the employee with a confirmed case inhabited. Such cleaning should follow all applicable CDC guidelines and cleaning standards.

If you have questions regarding the confirmed coronavirus case procedure or wish to discuss the development of a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, please reach out to your Varnum attorney.

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