COVID-19 may have permanently changed the business landscape. One aspect of managing a modern company is constant: Being agile and adaptable is crucial to employers managing their workforce, whether they work remotely or in-person.
It is important to not delay in changing your employee management practices so that they are compliant with applicable laws and still work for all.
Remote work requires the updating of policies and procedures
Prior executive orders in Kentucky required businesses to impose work from home requirements on all employees who were capable of doing so.
Although it is not required, many employers continue to allow this practice. Employers must monitor the hours and duration of employees’ work to comply with Fair Labor Standard Act rules.
Employers should install a remote time clock program to allow employees to log in or out during work hours. Employers must have a way to keep accurate records of each employee’s work hours.
Employers should communicate expectations with their employees about what they expect of them when working remotely. Most employment manuals are limited to policies that apply to the workplace. They may need to be modified to accommodate remote work.
Some employees have moved to other states. My friends moved to Tennessee with one of their family members, and the other family member stayed employed at a New York company. An employer might need to be aware of the requirements for compliance with tax laws in their state.
Determining vaccination status
Employers with more than 100 employees could be subject to a new temporary emergency standard from the Department of Labor, depending on the outcome of any court challenges. This standard either requires or requires proof of vaccination or imposes strict regular testing protocols.
An employer may need information to determine if its employees are in compliance. The Department of Health & Human Services ruled that asking employees about their vaccination status does no harm to HIPAA rights.
The employer must ensure that the disclosure is treated as confidentially as possible. Is your business able to plan how to limit such disclosures in a way that protects privacy while also complying with federal requirements?
Essential job duties
Some job duties were combined in the early stages. Some responsibilities were transferred temporarily, others permanently.
Do your job descriptions reflect what is happening now or two years ago?
A current and up-to date list of all job titles as well as their essential functions is vital, especially since job titles have changed.
These descriptions can often be used to determine if an individual is a qualified individual with disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Who is the point person for the office?
No matter how big or small your business is, you need someone who can keep up with changing conditions, issues, guidance, and other important information.
Our office manager was keeping an eye on the developments of the pandemic, employer response in my workplace, so that we were prepared to go remote if unexpected shutdowns began.
As new laws and regulations began to flood our landscape, it was my job as a journalist to keep track of what was changing and how to adapt. Ignorance is no excuse.
Matthew D. Ellison, a member of Fowler Bell, is a lawyer in the Litigation, Bankruptcy, Creditors Rights Groups of the firm. He also has experience with workers compensation litigation, appellate practices, complex collection matters, as well as employment law. For more information, visit fowlerlaw.com