Key considerations for how to reopen your organization

By May 5, 2020 Newsletter

There are so many conditions that will need to be in place prior to reopening your doors for business. Below we have outlined some things that you will need to think about, develop and implement so you may safely and thoughtfully reopen your doors. Before you start to recall your furloughed/laid off employees (find a sample recall notice here) there are a few things you may wish to think about, create and implement.

This guide is meant to be a jumping off point of things to think about and consider as we move towards reopening the workplace and society. This is not an all-inclusive or legal guide and is only meant to give you ideas on how you might move forward in this new world at work.

Ensure that you follow all state and local directives and guidelines as well as any industry-specific requirements prior to and during your reopening. Consulting a licensed employment law attorney is always a smart thing to do prior to implementing a new policy and/or practice. Remember that this situation has brought new information, recommendations, precautions and laws. It is unprecedented, and is likely to remain fluid.

  • Consider creating a COVID-19 task force or committee. The number one concern for employers to consider is, how do I keep my employees and clients safe? This would typically involve employees from Facilities, Safety, Operations and Human Resources and others you believe to be valuable thinkers and doers in your nonprofit, both management and non-supervisory.
  • Conduct a risk assessment. Be familiar with OSHA guidelines for a healthy and safe workplace. OSHA has guidance on COVID-19 here.
  • Ensure that you have posted proper hygiene and hand washing requirements along with developing a physical distancing plan that is written, posted, and understood by all employees. Provide easy access to soap, water, paper towels, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, etc. Check the CDC website for the most up-to-date guidelines.
  • Consider modifying your physical workspace to ensure proper physical distancing.
  • Perhaps you should stagger your employee’s schedules and the services you provide to your customers.
  • Develop a cleaning/disinfecting protocol and a timeline to enact. Consider posting the cleaning schedule for all to see. (Click here for more guidance from the EPA.)
  • Establish your policy on mandating (or suggesting) whether you will require employees to use personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves and whether you will provide them or reimburse employees for them.
  • Develop a communications plan. Determine who is responsible for disseminating information on any new developments regarding COVID-19 and any changes to the laws and best practices for keeping the workplace healthy and safe.
  • You may choose to require a daily symptom report for each employee that enters the physical workspace. If so, think about who will administer it and keep it confidential. You should consider whether you will pay employees for the day if they are sent home with one or more “symptoms.” Feel free to use this sample check list. (Pay attention to your state’s show up pay requirements.)
  • Another possible action is to decide whether you should take employees’ temperatures each day prior to their entering the physical workspace. Again, you need to decide if you will pay employees for the day if they are sent home with a fever. Click here for EEOC guidance on the issue and always pay attention to your state’s show up pay requirements for these cases.
  • The following ten questions are ones you should answer prior to bringing employees back to the physical workspace.
    1. Will you mandate testing? Vaccines?
    2. Do you need to revamp, revise, create or delete any current personnel policies?
    3. Will you update and increase your sick leave benefits and policies?
    4. Will you increase who is eligible for health benefits? Perhaps including a basic catastrophic medical benefit for all?
    5. Do you need to create a policy on physical distancing? Where it applies and what it includes. (Example: no high fives, fist bumps, handshakes, hugs, etc.)
    6. Will you monitor where employees go on vacation? If they travel outside of the U.S. or to an area with a high infection rate, will you require a mandated 14-day quarantine?
    7. What happens when an employee comes down with COVID-19 at work or if they have a housemate or family member who becomes ill?
    8. Have you modified your leave policies to include the new FFCRA requirements?
    9. Do you have a plan of action in case there is another outbreak where your community goes back into shelter-in-place mode?
    10. Have you created a succession plan if key employees become ill and can’t work, either in the workplace or remotely?

This is a good place to start and should assist you in helping your organization and management team consider certain areas that should be addressed as you contemplate your reopening strategies.


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If you have any questions or concerns related to this issue, or any other HR matter, please contact 501(c) HR Services for assistance.

This information is collected from multiple sources and is provided as general advice and information. It should not be construed as legal advice. Neither the 501(c) Agencies Trust nor 501(c) Insurance Programs, Inc. (collectively 501) guarantees that the information herein is complete or correct, and 501 disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this message or information given verbally. Pleased consult licensed legal counsel in the recipient’s state.

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