Construction Law

4 Tips For Creating an Effective Return to Work Program featured image

4 Tips For Creating an Effective Return to Work Program

With expected absenteeism over the next month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction businesses are advised to alter their sick leave policies, cross-train employees on critical operations, and create a reporting system to prevent any potentially sick workers from entering the jobsite. Currently, return to work programs are one of the most common areas a Charlotte construction attorney is fielding legal questions. In this article, the construction attorneys at Cotney Attorneys & Consultants will provide you with four tips on how to create a successful return to work program during uncertain times. 

We hope this educational article can help you integrate an effective return to work program for your business. For legal advice and assistance with employee handbook drafting services, consult a Charlotte construction law firm

1) Understanding COVID-Related Medical Requirements

Navigating business needs while ensuring compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) can present challenges. For COVID-19-related medical issues, employers are entitled to take an employee’s temperature. They can also ask employees questions related to potential exposure to COVID-19. With that being said, it’s best to keep any medical-related questions or questions about possible exposure general. This can help reduce the chances of a discrimination claim. 

Related: In Uncertain Times, Pay Close Attention to the Employee Handbook

2) Keep All Investigations Confidential 

It’s critical that any of the information received in COVID-19-related conversations remains confidential. If an employee is infected with COVID-19, you should inform the workers that may have been exposed that an employee was infected; however, you should not name the employee that was infected or provide any information related to their medical condition or the details of your conversation with them.

3) Comply With All Government and Public Health Requirements

When employees return to work, employers must comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. You must also adhere to the specific guidelines in your state or county. This includes maintaining social distancing requirements. Whether it’s staggering shifts, reconfiguring office space, or employing other ways to comply with these regulations, employers need to do everything in their power to keep their workplace safe. Contractors may face liability in the future if they fail to follow these guidelines. 

Related: Employer Guidelines for Employee Terminations

4) Ensure Consistency in Your Return to Work Program

As workers return to work, it’s essential that you avoid bias in any return to work programs. For example, an employer that immediately brings back several of their youngest employees could face liability for age discrimination. If you require workers to undergo any medical process to effectively clear them to return to work, require all similarly-situated employees to engage in the same process. Furthermore, ensure that no employees are retaliated against when they return to work. Retaliation can include reduced pay, reduced shift hours, or a demotion in position. 

If you would like to speak with a Charlotte construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.