Practical and Legal Considerations to Reopening Your Business

As businesses begin to reopen after two months of closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners should take steps to protect their employees and keep themselves from facing a lawsuit if someone gets sick or worse.

Safety Protocols

A Miami nail salon recently sent out an email to its customers detailing its safety guidelines, including what they expected from visitors. Part of the business protocol – testing customers’ temperatures before entering the salon using an infrared thermometer.

Here are some tips for ensuring your employees and customers are safe in your business, store or restaurant.

  • Follow CDC Control and Prevention Guidelines
  • Establish clear protocols for employees and third parties to follow when in your place of business.
  • Instruct your employees to stay home or go home if they don’t feel well.
  • Provide your employees with masks, shields and gloves and whatever else they need to stay safe.
  • Consider screening employees and visitors before they enter your business.
  • Establish social distancing requirements for open workspaces, meeting rooms and other common areas.
  • Consider flexible work hours and work-from-home policies to minimize the number of people in an office at any given time.
  • Allow employees to use facemasks, gloves and other protections even if office rules don’t require it.
  • Consider installing barriers between desks like those now used by supermarkets and other retailers.
  • Prohibit and discourage the sharing of tools and equipment.
  • Encourage good hygiene. Encourage respiratory etiquette and frequent handwashing. Make sure to stock enough soap, hand sanitizer and other essential supplies.
  • Encourage handwashing breaks.
  • Discourage the sharing of equipment.
  • Develop office cleaning protocols to include EPA-approved cleaning chemicals.

What if employees are infected or exposed to infected individuals?

Employers should develop a protocol to deal with employees who have been exposed to the coronavirus or have become infected.

  • Send the employee home even if they feel well. Employees can work remotely.
  • Provide resources such as a list of testing sites and other important information to ensure the infected or symptomatic employee receives proper care.
  • Inform your staff, customers and other necessary parties of the potential exposure without “outing” the employee.
  • Clean the employee’s workspace thoroughly and considering closing off sections of an office for 24 hours or more.

Lastly, we encourage you to consult with an HR professional and your attorney to ensure your protocols provide employee and customer safety and are legal and binding.

Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these blog posts may change on a daily basis. Please contact the Winston Law Firm for timely advice.