Creating a Post-Pandemic Return to Work Policy for Your Business
Having written company policies in an employee handbook is always important, but now more so than ever. With the country opening up after more than a year of many employees working from home, businesses are grappling with employees returning to the office in person and how to go about implementing a post-pandemic return to work policy. Some of the issues business are facing are: (1) whether all employees should return at the same time; (2) whether employees be phased back in person in stages; and (3) whether they should require or recommend that employees returning to work in person get the covid vaccine.
Before developing a post-pandemic return to work policy, there is one thing that should be done first - speak with your employees and get an idea of what their concerns are, if any, about returning to the office. From there, you can then develop a plan for employees to return to work that works for your business and your employees.
Some things to consider in formulating a return to work policy are:
Can your business implement a hybrid return where some employees return to work in person and some remain remote? If your business is such that some employees can work remotely, having employees return in a hybrid model could give some of your employees the flexibility they need, or give them the opportunity to continue to work remotely if they are concerned about returning in person right now. Those that are comfortable returning in person can do so.
What are your employees’ concerns? There are a variety of concerns that employees have about returning in person and they include health-related and non-health related concerns. Many parents are still facing childcare issues with some schools not being re-opened for in-person learning full time. For those that have health-related issues, they may be concerned about the risk of returning in-person. Some might not be comfortable returning if there are employees who are not vaccinated. It will help you tremendously to know what the concerns are so that you can figure out what will work best for your business and your employees.
Will you recommend that employees get the vaccine if they are returning to work in person? Although a business can require that employees get the vaccine, what if you have employees that don't want to get the vaccine? What are their concerns? If you have open lines of communication, you might find out that all of your employees have it, or plan on getting it, so it might not be an issue.
Do any of your employees have childcare issues that will make returning to work in person difficult? If there are employees that have childcare issues, maybe a hybrid return, allowing those with childcare issues more flexibility, will work for your business and allow your employees to get their work done without the stress of worrying about having to return in-person.
Will you prepare a written post-pandemic return to work policy? Do your policies need to be updated to reflect the current circumstances? We believe that a written policy is always best. And, it is a great time to review all of your policies to see whether they need to be updated. If so, update them so all of your policies are current.
What are your state and local laws? Have they changed? The rules surrounding these issues have been constantly in flux and each state is different so it is important to know what they are so your policies are in line with them.
These are just a few things to consider when creating a return to work policy. As we always say, communication is everything so if you communicate with your employees in preparation for creating a policy, you can come up with a policy that works for your employees, as well as your business!
Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls and communications. Contacting us, however, does not create an attorney-client relationship.