New York – Many people are concerned about their own health as well as that of the people around them during this coronavirus outbreak. A common question that comes up is, what is the responsibility of the employer during these perilous times? Can an employer require workers to come in to work? Should they? Some jobs are vital for society and the well being of everyone. However, other jobs are less so and this should be taken into consideration by a boss. The driving force in decision making should involve the health and well being of employees and customers, and not just money. Workers should be encouraged to work from home or at off times when the office or workplace is relatively empty. In addition, the workplace should be kept clean and disinfected on a very regular basis to avoid getting workers and customers sick. A central thought of employers during this time must be to prevent a work illness or work injury. This may mean that a company will need to work on setting up the employee with adequate work-at-home accommodations and allowances as needed. Employers and companies should ensure a safer environment by also sending home any worker who shows any signs of illness, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath. The concept is similar to the requirement on employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment in general. For example, good lighting in an office or warehouse to prevent a trip and fall; proper safety equipment on a dangerous construction site; or constant diligence to avoid broken equipment from improper maintenance. In addition, employers should make reasonable efforts to educate their workers and staff on how to protect themselves at work. Systems should be set up by managers and bosses to prevent clumping of customers and workers to prevent spread of the disease. Clear signs and instructions as well as any necessary personal protection equipment and safe cleaning supplies should be made available to staff and customers to prevent a dangerous situation. You can see this article for more guidance on how to prevent getting sick from COVID-19 in the workplace.
Photo for illustrative purposes only. Photo Credit: Senado Federal [License]