As we approach the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the global pandemic, many firms have settled into a pattern that has altered their business architecture. It is critical to consider how this new framework will affect your Human Resources program. What is the current state of your workplace in a world where a greater reliance on technology is required? Will you continue to allow some or all of your workers to work remotely? If you have returned staff to the office, you most certainly have policies in place that mandate social separation and mask-wearing in order to keep employees safe. Every company is distinct and has been affected differently; however, the epidemic has rendered most HR programs obsolete. Let us investigate how your company can fill any holes left by the events of the previous year. Click here for Best HR Software in Pakistan.
Workplace Controls and Exposure Risks
Employers and employees alike are concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. An infectious disease policy is critical for communicating an employer’s plan of action during an infectious disease outbreak or pandemic if your organization has personnel working on-site. A thorough policy informs employees of the organization’s efforts, such as sending sick staff home and imposing workplace regulations. This policy educates employees on how to protect oneself from the spread of infectious disease, such as social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a mask.
Employers should follow federal, state, and municipal health and safety guidelines in addition to having an infectious disease policy. OSHA has issued Guidance on Returning to Work, a paper that contains instructions to help employers reopen non-essential enterprises and employees return to work during the epidemic. OSHA issued Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace on January 29, 2022 to assist employers in identifying risks of exposure or contracting COVID-19 in the workplace and determining any suitable control measures to apply.
Employers should also be aware that certain states have adopted particular laws and regulations to promote safety during the pandemic. If a company operates in states such as California, Michigan, Minnesota, or Oregon, it must have COVID-19 readiness plans in place, as well as meet training requirements.
COVID-19-Related Leave Laws
Based on federal, state, or municipal legislation, covered employers may be compelled to give employees with job-protected leave. Paid sick leave or family leave may be granted to eligible workers for COVID-19-related reasons in some cases.
Even though the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on December 31, 2022, companies can continue voluntarily give paid expanded family and medical leave, as well as emergency paid sick leave, until March 31, 2022. Employers should keep an eye out for any additional federal obligations that may be imposed as a result of impending congressional relief legislation.
Many states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon, have particular rules regarding paid sick leave or job-protected leave for COVID-19-related causes.
Vaccinations for COVID-19
As COVID-19 vaccines continue to be distributed around the country, employers will have to decide how to handle staff vaccinations. Several aspects should be considered by employers when deciding whether to require, encourage, or maintain silent on the topic.
The EEOC has offered guidance on how employers can require all employees to get vaccinated. If a company demands the vaccine, they must explain how the requirements are job-related and consistent with business needs. A documented policy outlining the immunization requirements should also be in place. Employers should provide concessions for impairments and religious reasons and document their participation in the interactive process if necessary.
If the vaccine is needed, the employer may be liable for the expense of the vaccine, and keep in mind that the time an employee spends getting vaccinated is subject to wage and hour requirements. If an employee experiences an unfavorable reaction to vaccination, the employer may be susceptible to a worker’s compensation claim.
Other businesses may want to encourage but not mandate their staff to get vaccinated. While it may be tempting for businesses to provide an incentive to their employees by offering a cash or Health Savings Account bonus for being vaccinated, there may be payroll tax implications. Instead, as a sort of inducement, businesses could pay to compensate an employee’s time spent getting vaccinated.
Employee Involvement in a Remote Team
Organizations with remote employees, whether temporary or permanent, should ensure that employees are engaged with the organization. Conducting frequent employee engagement surveys establishes a baseline that can be assessed over time and identifies possible issues before they become serious. Employers can conduct exit interviews with voluntarily leaving employees to get feedback on why the employee is leaving and what improvements the employer can make to retain personnel.
Team members that work remotely may feel more isolated, resulting in lower engagement. Benefits such as access to an Employee Assistance Program provide options to employees who may require assistance. It is also beneficial to ensure that employees have a neutral third-party, such as a member of the HR program team, to whom they may report any issues. View here HR Outsourcing Companies in UAE.
Regardless of the obstacles that companies encounter, being proactive is your best weapon for avoiding complications. If March 2022 taught us anything, it is that dealing with a crisis after it has occurred is expensive. Consider implementing rules, retention tactics, and compliance measures to enable a smooth transition to your new business structure and to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases. If you’ve lost valuable HR knowledge, now is a great moment to think about how you’ll cover the voids. Hiring an HR consultant to assess your HR program and verify it corresponds with your present practices and covers all the bases may be a good idea.