COVID-Related HR Issues to Consider
If you are like most companies, you have spent the last several months trying to protect your employees from the coronavirus. You have incorporated mask-wearing and social-distancing guidelines, and you have provided training for avoiding infection on the job. However, here are some additional COVID-19–related concerns that you should review.
Unused Vacation Time
Working during the pandemic presented a unique set of challenges for employees and employers. Many of your staff have likely been juggling childcare and health concerns while working remotely or onsite. Along the way, they may not have used all their vacation days. If your policy calls for employees losing unused hours at the end of the year, that could hurt morale. You may need to revisit that stipulation and consider a one-time carryover for 2021. Otherwise, your employees may all ask to take vacation time during the last two weeks of the year, which can be problematic for your business.
Drug Testing Policies
Onboarding new employees required new processes during the pandemic. Your HR office probably requested and submitted paperwork electronically and offered virtual training. Along the way, they may have postponed the usual mandatory drug tests. If you are tempted to play catch-up and administer drug tests to newer employees who have been working for a while, use caution. Check the laws in your state. Some may ban post-employment testing unless you have a suspicion of drug use.
Expenses for Remote Employees
As you tally year-end costs, be sure to check with employees about expenses incurred while working remotely. If your workers had to purchase printer paper or toner, get a new office chair, or upgrade to a monitor with a camera, have them submit receipts for reimbursement. Your state laws may require you to cover these expenditures, and you will build goodwill when you do.
Mental Health Benefits
Many staff members may have experienced stress and burnout over the last several months. Whether they are worried about their health, their families, job security, financial issues, or what the future holds, some may be battling depression and other mental health concerns. Review your company’s resource offerings, and ensure your employees have what they need to protect their physical and psychological health.
Now more than ever, your workers need your support and guidance. The pandemic may dissipate over the next several months, but your people may feel its effects for some time.
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.