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What kind of policies should I adopt in light of COVID-19?

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One of the questions on the top of many business owners’ minds right now is how they should respond to the coronavirus threat as an employer. The current coronavirus crisis affects so many areas of business, prompting new federal, state and local guidance and regulations and making it more difficult than ever for business owners like contractors to know what they can and should be implementing at their businesses.

The CDC and WHO have both offered guidance on good hygiene practices to institute at your workplace, but the following tips from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cover some of the other major questions employers may face during this time.


SHRM suggests implementing self-quarantine policies for employees who have exhibited coronavirus symptoms, have tested positive for coronavirus or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. The CDC has provided specific guidance about the recommended number of days of quarantine for each situation. Under these recommendations, employers can require an employee who reveals they have a positive coronavirus test to stay home.

Coronavirus in the workplace

It’s important to note that SHRM recommends not directly asking employees if they have coronavirus, opting instead to ask how they are feeling in general, to avoid violating ADA regulations. If an employee tests positive, SHRM says employers should inform employees that they have possibly been exposed to the virus at work, without disclosing any identifying information about the individual who tested positive.


Many employers are cancelling all but the most essential business travel, SHRM said. Additionally, the CDC recommends that employees returning from countries that have a Level 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC should stay home for a period of 14 days after returning to the United States.

Remote Work

SHRM and CDC both consider remote work allowances during a pandemic crisis to be a practical way to reduce exposure of the virus in some work environments. SHRM advises that employees with disabilities that put them at high risk for complications may request telework as a reasonable accommodation to reduce their chances of infection during a pandemic.

Coronavirus-Related Absences

Employers may see an increase in absences during this period as a result of the coronavirus crisis. SHRM advises that under OSHA, employees are only entitled to refuse to work if they believe they are in imminent danger.

However, SHRM explains that the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allows an employee to take paid FMLA leave if he or she can't work remotely because their minor child's school or childcare service is closed due to COVID-19.

Policy needs will depend upon other factors such as your number of employees and the status of your ability to operate your business in your state or locality.

Disclaimer: The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other third-party websites and TAMKO is not responsible for the availability, content or accuracy of those other websites. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

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