Workplace & HR Resources

Coronavirus

Coronavirus is impacting our nation’s health and economy. We're still learning a lot about the spread, impact and severity of the virus; by educating our employees and our customers, and providing them with the tools they need to protect themselves, we can help limit the impact this disease will have on our communities.

coronavirus_discussion_button_2.pngAs a business owner, you have an obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) general duty clause. Education is the first line of defense in preventing exposure to and spread of COVID-19 in your workplace. Anticipate that this increased awareness and new work tasks will result in increased time and cost.

For Your Staff and Shared Workspaces

  • Talk about the virus and its implications on daily activities in your staff meetings; every employee must understand the critical role they play in maintaining a healthy workplace and protecting your customers.

  • Educate staff to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 in each other and your customers.

  • Establish a remote working plan if required in your area. Many golf courses use a POS that permits remote access for designated personnel; make sure your system provides the appropriate security protocols for remote access.

  • Establish a communication plan to keep your employees informed and updated on issues affecting the workplace.

  • Institute a policy that requires employees to tell you when they’ve been exposed to any highly communicable illness, and then directly them to the local health agency for appropriate testing. Knowingly permitting an infected person to work could result in your company being held liable; state labor laws vary so you should consult your state department of health or department of labor and follow their guidance.

  • Limit person-to-person contact with other employees and customers.

  • Clean computer keyboards and telephone equipment, especially those used publicly.

  • Educate staff on hygiene, sanitation and food handling, and its impact of preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

  • Determine if your insurance policy covers lost business as a result of a designated state of emergency (this coverage is similar to losses due to national disasters).

Frequently-Asked HR Questions and Answers

The following questions are for general consideration only, and the answers may not be completely accurate in every circumstance or state (and should not be considered a substitute for professional legal advice, or information published by the CDC or local public health officials.)

  1. From a legal perspective, what do I have to do to make sure customers and employees are safe?

    Continue to monitor CDC and local public health official guidance. Generally, employers have a duty of care to provide employees a safe and healthy workplace. This means taking steps to limit the spread of infectious diseases, like COVID-19, in the workplace. Employees who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms should be sent home, and you should ask them to provide a fitness for duty certification from their medical provider prior to allowing them to return. If a customer appears to have flu-like symptoms, you should ask them to leave the area.

  2. Can I make someone not work because they are ill?

    Yes. Because employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workforce, employees with obvious symptoms of illness and disease, including all forms of the flu, should be encouraged to stay home or, if they are at work when symptoms develop, to go home. See the response to Question 2 in the Employer FAQ below for more information.

  3. How should I handle canceled outings, events or even just tee times due to actual illness of just fear of the virus?

    Handling cancelations is a business decision. If a customer cancels an event, outing or tee time, and it is due to travel restrictions, illness or concern over the spread of COVID-19, we recommend providing a full or partial refund, or offering to reschedule the event, outing or tee time to a date later in the year. However, you should remind customers that, if they choose to reschedule, because of the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 outbreak and ever-changing guidance from the CDC and/or local public health officials, such rescheduling may need to be indefinitely postponed.

  4. What is my liability should an employee get sick and quarantined? Both full-time and part-time without sick or vacation.

    If you operate a facility in a state or municipality with mandatory paid sick leave requirements, you must provide employees’ applicable paid time off as required by law. Moreover, if you are an FMLA-covered employer, you may need to provide an employee FMLA-protected leave to care for himself or herself, or for the employee’s immediate family. Aside from legally-mandated time off, employees who are sick and/or quarantined and who have vacation or sick time available, should be eligible to use it as requested, required by law, or as otherwise provided in any applicable policies. You may also consider providing employees who are sick or caring for a family member who is sick (or who is required to stay home to care for a child whose school is closed) a special dispensation, such that all or part of the time is paid time off. This will help alleviate any financial distress an employee may experience as a result of COVID-19. However, federal and most state laws do not require employers to pay non-exempt employees who do not work as a result of illness or injury. For exempt employees, if the employer requires the employee to go home from work, or if the employee performs any work in a particular workweek, the employee must be paid their regular compensation for that workweek. If, however, an employee is ill and does not work in any single workday, it is (under federal law and some state laws) permissible to dock the pay of that employee for full day absences. Notwithstanding, you should consult local legal counsel for state laws that may differ from this general guidance. For more information, see the response to Question 2 of the Employer FAQ below.

  5. If an employee self-quarantines himself/herself, as an employer what actions am I entitled to make?

    Similar to our response to #4, you must follow all federal and state leave laws, and should follow the terms of your own time off policies. If an employee is not entitled to any paid leave, then you can either elect to pay them for all or part of the self-quarantine, or not do so (consistent with the exempt and non-exempt payment requirements addressed in #4 above).

  6. What should I do if an employee informs me they do not feel safe at work because of the virus?

    You should remind the employee that you are committed to providing employees a safe and healthy workplace, and to that end, you are in consultation with local public health officials and monitoring CDC guidance to respond appropriately should the situation change. Regular communication regarding plans and updates and reassurances that you are committed to worker safety, go a long way to ensuring employees feel safe at work. If employees are able to work remotely, you might consider allowing them to do so for the time being until more guidance is issued by the CDC or other public health authorities. However, you do not need to allow this under all circumstances. Notwithstanding, if an employee does not want to continue to come to work out of fear, you do not need to pay them for the time they are not working. Employees should be reminded that they are obligated to report to work under normal circumstances, and if they are not ill, have not been in contact with someone who is ill, or otherwise traveled through an area with a current travel threat advisory, absent some contrary guidance from the CDC or public health authorities, employees are expected to report to work or use available vacation time. Special circumstances may arise where it is advisable to provide employees time off (paid or unpaid), but at this time, it is not required or necessary.

  7. Would I need to pay worker’s compensation for employees who contracted COVID-19?

    Employees who contract COVID-19 at work may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. It is up to the employee to decide whether or not to file a workers compensation claim. Proving contraction of COVID-19 occurred in the workplace is likely difficult, but possible. Infections contracted outside the workplace, however, will not result in employer liability.

Federal Agency Resources

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