During the COVID-19 pandemic, questions about when employees may or may not travel, how to assess temperature checks at the front door, and a wide array of other issues have continued to crop up. Whenever an employer feels like it’s gotten its arms around the appropriate answers, circumstances change, with states opening and closing, infection rates spiking, and politicians continually issuing new direction and orders.
Regardless of the day or the noise, however, some basic questions remain the same.
What about travel? If your governor, mayor, or other state authority has indicated your state, county, or city is “open,” it can be more difficult to limit personal travel for your employees. Basic safety and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considerations, however, necessitate that you talk with employees before they return to the workspace after personal travel.
Reasonable inquiries about travel include:
- Form of transport used (planes, trains, buses, cruise ships, and other mass transit are higher risk); and
- High-risk activities (e.g., volunteer work in a nursing home with a significant number of COVID-19 cases).
Other factors to consider include a travel companion testing positive for COVID-19, staying at a resort where multiple cases have been logged, or similar issues. Particular attention should also be paid to whether they have chosen to travel to a state with a high coronavirus rate or, in violation of governmental authority, traveled in a “closed” state. These can be routinely checked on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Iowa websites.
Employees with high-risk factors such as plane travel to a state that is currently closed or experiencing a significant spike should be prohibited from returning to the workspace for a minimum of 14 days and 72 hours symptom-free.
What about travel for work? Employers bear a heightened obligation to ensure employees’ safety, particularly when assessing travel for work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Assessment factors should include:
- Travel location;
- How contact will occur;
- What safety measures can be put into place; and
- An appropriate process for contact tracing.
You should maintain contact tracing documentation to minimize the litigation risk. The statute of limitations in Iowa, for example, for a personal injury claim is 2 years, so we generally suggest keeping documentation of this type for a minimum of 3 years. While contact tracing apps may be used, the type of consent and security policies needed vary by state.
What about taking your temperature at the door? Using Iowa as an example again, it should be noted there are two different sets of guidelines in relationship to temperature—one set for healthcare facilities and another for nonhealth-related entities.
If you are in a healthcare facility such as a hospital, long-term care facility, or something similar, the governor hasn’t lessened the restrictions on. . .
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Source: HR Daily Advisor