What Are Employers’ Legal Obligations Regarding Coronavirus?

a cashier wearing a face mask

With the rapid spread of COVID-19, companies need to focus on the safety of their employees. If you’re still required to go into work at an essential business or if you’re working from home, you might be wondering what legal obligations your employer has to keep you and other employees safe. Our Monterey County employment attorneys have put together everything you need to know about your employer’s legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you need legal guidance because you think your employer failed to keep you safe during the current health crisis, give Polaris Law Group a call at (888) 796-4010 to schedule a virtual consultation!

Strengthen Communication & Hygiene Stations

Employers must provide workers with accurate information on ways to prevent getting infected. Your employer should be educating workers about standard modes of transmission and symptoms by sharing specific health guidelines. Employers must ask staff to stay home if they have been exposed to the virus, if they show signs of the infection, or if they have a member in their household who is sick.

Employers should also be implementing safety measures to reduce the risk of workplace transmissions. Employers should also provide workers with easy access to handwashing stations or hand sanitizing stations. They should also regularly be disinfecting public surfaces, such as counters, doorknobs, and elevator buttons. Employers should be taking measures to reduce overcrowded rooms to prevent spreading the virus.

Restrictions When Returning to Work

If an employee has shown symptoms of the virus, your employer should require a doctor’s note to ensure they are no longer infected. This will prevent any other employers from getting exposed to Coronavirus. Your employer should be taking every step they can to prevent workers from getting exposed to the virus.

Protect Privacy

Employers should disclose personal health data from employees who become infected or are at high risk of infection. Failure to disclose personal information could expose the company to breach of privacy claims. Although they aren’t allowed to share the names of those infected with the company, they can, however, disclose the information to authorities for public health reasons.

FMLA Expansions for COVID-19

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers are required to provide their workers with up to 12 weeks of medical leave. The FMLA now allows employees who are unable to work or work from home to take leave due to the need to care for their son or daughter (under 18 years of age) if their child’s school has been closed and their childcare provider is unavailable.

Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act adds a paid sick leave obligation for employees. Employers with fewer than 500 employees must immediately make available 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time employees who have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine.

Obligations for Employees Working from Home

If your employer requires employees to work from home, they have limited responsibility for the safety and health of the employee’s work conditions. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), they won’t be holding employers liable for employee’s home offices, and they won’t be conducting home inspections.

What If My Employer Is Putting Us At Risk?

If your employer isn’t taking the necessary measures to keep you and other employees safe while you go into work, you may be able to file a claim against your employer. Companies have a responsibility to keep workers safe and take precautionary measures to ensure employees have the tools they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If your employer failed to keep your health data private or fi they have denied paid leave, you should seek legal guidance.

If you don’t believe that your employer has been following legal obligations for COVID-19, get in touch with our team for legal guidance. Call our Monterey County employment attorneys today at (888) 796-4010 to schedule a virtual consultation!

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