Updating the Break Room: Making Your Office COVID-19 Compliant

Employment expert explains what changes companies should implement ASAP

COVID-19While millions of employees are now furloughed or working from home, for essential employees, it’s important to ensure that workplaces are modified to address COVID-19 concerns.

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and human resources expert, says that your break room and common spaces should feature verbiage that reflect the new changes to workers’ rights.

“The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued regulations to implement the paid leave mandates of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA),” says Wilson. “The regulations provide direction for administration of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). These new regulations will change your company’s sick leave policy, and you need to make sure that these changes are posted in an easily accessible area for all of your workers to see.

Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, employers must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19. And, under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, certain employers must provide up to 10 weeks of paid, and two weeks of unpaid, emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees if the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.”

Wilson also encourages companies to contact employees with e-flyers about these changes.

“Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises,” he says. “But an employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.”

The employment expert also suggests providing safety measures like handwashing stations, antibacterial pump stations, antibacterial wipes, and discouraging or preventing the use of common bacteria sites like shared coffee makers.

“Increase your cleaning budget, if possible, and encourage small, but substantive changes when it comes to the amount of times your staff could be exposed to deadly germs,” says Wilson. “Retire the water cooler and coffee maker for now. Encourage employees to avoid sharing pens and using each other’s keyboards. Wipe down common areas frequently.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.