- Employers should modify office workstations and improve office ventilation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a May 27 guidance.
- Specifically, employers should make changes so employees can remain six feet apart, the agency said; transparent barriers can be used where social distancing is not an option, it said. And when it comes to ventilation, employers can increase the percentage of outdoor air in offices and improve central air filtration, among other things.
- The CDC guidance for employers with offices also included detailed recommendations regarding common areas, office visitors, cleaning and employee symptom checks.
As some employers begin to recall workers to the office, HR pros may find themselves involved in developing a reopening plan.
In addition to planning for facilities changes, some employers are weighing temperature checks and on-site testing — both of which have been approved by federal authorities. Others are devising mask policies, staggering shifts or moving away from a commitment to on-site work.
Employment attorneys recommended in a recent webinar that, regardless of approach, HR lobby for a phased ramp up, as a pilot program can allow employers to troubleshoot any unpredicted issues. They cautioned, however, that as with testing, any such programs cannot disproportionately affect workers in a protected class.
Additionally, transparent communication is key, experts previously told HR Dive. Employers will need to address any employee fears about returning to work, and be clear about the terms of employment, Kathleen Caminiti, a partner at Fisher Phillips and co-chair of the firm's wage and hour and pay equity practice groups, said. Employees being called back after a furlough, for example, should know exactly what they'll be receiving upon return. Be clear but thoughtful, she advised.