Window to the Law: Making Your Workplace COVID-Safe

Window to the Law: Making Your Workplace COVID-Safe

Feb 1, 2021
4:14
Light Theme Light Dark Theme Dark

Advertisement

As businesses re-open workplaces to workers, clients and the public, having a comprehensive re-entry plan in place will help ensure the health and safety of those in your office, and also protect your business from potential liability related to COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.

Window to the Law: Making Your Workplace COVID-Safe: Transcript

With the COVID-19 vaccine bringing renewed hope that the pandemic may soon be over, many businesses are considering re-opening workplaces to workers, clients and the public. As reported cases of coronavirus continue to rise, however, now is not the time to lessen safety practices.  A re-entry plan will help ensure the health of those in your office and also protect your business from potential liability related to virus exposure in the workplace. Continue watching to learn more about implementing a plan for your business.

Your re-entry plan should incorporate a multi-faceted approach to minimizing the threat of exposure to the virus, including:

  • Updating cleaning protocols to comply with CDC guidance;
  • Promoting social distancing by restricting the number of people allowed in the office, modifying workspaces, and limiting access to common areas;
  • Requiring all individuals entering the office to wear a mask and submit to temperature checks;
  • Updating and creating workplace policies to incorporate COVID-19 safety protocols, including how to address reports of COVID-19 symptoms, diagnoses and exposure in the workplace;
  • And finally confirming your policies and re-entry plan comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations and CDC guidance.

With over 1,500 workplace safety lawsuits related to coronavirus exposure filed since the start of the pandemic, implementing a COVID-19 re-entry plan may help lower the risk of such liability for your business. First, compliance with a comprehensive plan should reduce the chance of COVID-19 exposure in your workplace. Second, some states have enacted laws that grant businesses immunity from certain COVID-related claims. For example, Kansas affords temporary immunity from potential exposure claims to businesses acting pursuant to and in substantial compliance with applicable public health directives, and in North Carolina, businesses will not be held liable for COVID-19 contraction claims absent gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing. In states where immunity is based on acting reasonably, such as North Carolina, or in states without an immunity law, a re-entry plan that adheres to federal, state and local orders will help demonstrate that a business acted reasonably in reopening its office.

In addition to reopening workplaces, businesses are now contemplating how to address vaccination for COVID-19. According to guidance from the EEOC, employers may require individuals entering the premises to show proof of vaccination. Work closely with your legal counsel and human resources team to develop and implement a vaccination policy for your business. For mandatory vaccination policies, remember to consider exceptions based on disability or religious beliefs. Also, to avoid worker classification issues, be sure that a mandatory policy is consistently applied based on exposure risk rather than employment relationship. You may want to consider other factors, such as employee hesitation regarding the vaccine, effect on employee morale, and how your business is prepared to respond when an employee refuses to receive the vaccination in determining whether the vaccination will be mandatory or strongly encouraged. Whether mandatory or voluntary, remember to clearly communicate the policy terms to the necessary individuals.

While you may be eager to return to your workplace, doing so in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of your staff, agents, and clients is of the utmost importance. For more tips and considerations regarding your COVID-19 re-entry plan, check out NAR’s Workplace Re-Entry Checklist and Guidance for Workplace Vaccination Policies, both available on nar.realtor.

From the advocacy efforts to technology advances and updates on commercial industry trends, the topics in this series all relate to what’s happening in commercial real estate now and what trends are on the horizon.
These webinars and videos are an extension of the New AE Orientation, intended to provide ongoing learning on association management resources and programs to newly appointed AEs.
Each week, NAR Leadership and industry experts share tips and updates on the real estate industry during this unprecedented time.
The hunt is about so much more than the house. Home buying hiccups lead to tough decisions. Guided by the expertise of a REALTOR®, First-Time Buyer puts the real in real estate.
YouTube Play Button Icon

NAR Videos on YouTube

NAR offers additional topics online covering legislation, events, industry news and guides for both NAR members and the public. Visit NAR on YouTube

National Association of REALTORS®

18.5K subscribers

Open YouTube

REALTOR® Party

1.57K subscribers

Open YouTube

REALTOR® Magazine

3.66K subscribers

Open YouTube

NAR Meetings

1.56K subscribers

Open YouTube

Realtors Property Resource® (RPR)

4.58K subscribers

Open YouTube

HouseLogic

1.17K subscribers

Open YouTube

First-Time Buyer

278 subscribers

Open YouTube

That’s Who We R (playlist)

Open YouTube