With Governor Inslee’s announcement that that the state is moving toward a statewide reopening date of June 30, 2021, many organizations are reviewing plans to return to their physical offices. After navigating a remote workforce for just over a year, employers face the unique challenge of preparing both their workplace and their workforce.
The uncertainty of the “new normal” is forcing employers to consider various new policies as employees return to the workplace. To the assist in dealing with the complexities of these COVID-19 employment issues, OneEastside SPARK hosted Society for Human Resource Management Seattle Chapter President Jane Billbe and Davis Wright Tremaine Partner Gregory Hendershott for an informative webinar entitled Returning to Work for Employers: Preparing the Workplace and Workforce.
Topics discussed included updating policies in regard to vaccinations, face coverings, and reasonable accommodation. They also covered strategies for deciding how and when to bring employees back to work as well as how to approach changes that you may need to make legally and ethically.
In addition to their presentation questions answered included:
- How can we go about creating an employee survey to get a feel for where they stand on returning to work?
- I have concerns about liability, should I have my employees sign a waiver regarding COVID-19 in the workplace?
- How can we edit our employee handbook to incorporate new COVID-19 related policies?
- I cannot bring back all of my workers at this point, how can I decide who to bring back?
- I have a few unvaccinated employees, should I continue to have face coverings a requirement at work?
- Do I need to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are parents and have special requirements due to childcare limitations?
- Should I implement screening of visitors and customers at my establishment?
- Can I screen and temperature check employees who are unvaccinated, or require them to take a COVID-19 or antibody test before allowing them to return to work?