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Employment Alert: 
Pivoting to Reopen--Critical Planning 
for the  New Normal in the Workplace
May 7, 2020
 
While employers spent the past two months responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and  stay-at-home orders that resulted in closing, curtailing, revamping businesses everywhere, we are now required to pivot and plan to reopen. Around the country, state governments are grappling with how and when to reopen businesses to the public while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. There are no easy answers.
 
In this alert, we highlight some updates for employers regarding resuming business in Washington and Oregon in the coming weeks and months. Employers must navigate a myriad set of guidelines, regulations, Executive Orders and more, at the federal, state, and sometimes local levels. 
 
To provide a safe workplace, the CDC advises employers that they are expected to: reduce transmission among employees, maintain a healthy work environment and maintain healthy business operations. With these key goals in mind, employers must develop plans for how to operate and to reopen when the time is right.
 
Employers can achieve these goals by outlining and developing plans for the following:

1)     providing a safe workplace;
2)    effective communication with employees;
3)    contingency planning (including potential resurgence); and
4)    compliance with all applicable employment laws.
 
First, for providing a safe workplace, employers will need to reassess the physical work space to ensure safety including, but not limited to, drafting and implementing policies on social distancing; PPE or facial coverings; and cleaning and contamination control. Employers will need to develop a process for enforcing policies. Second, to provide effective communication, employers will need to understand that employees may have mixed emotions about returning or reopening the work environment due to the unknown factors related to the spread of the pandemic and the impact on their personal and financial well-being. Taking the time to educate employees about all of the effort to provide a safe workplace and need for everyone to take responsibility and care to follow the new rules and expectations will be critical. Third, now is also the time to plan for a potential resurgence or employee exposure, which will require contingency planning.  And, fourth, the obligation to comply with all applicable employment laws never ends. Employers should work closely with Human Resources or legal counsel to ensure that the steps to reopen or responses to these new issues do not result in a violation of OSHA, discrimination laws, wage and hour laws, and the growing number of leave laws.

In the following links, we provide specific guidance to help businesses execute plans to reopen in Oregon and Washington and to meet CDC guidelines on cleaning.

Our clients can always reach us for guidance on these issues at 503.228.6044 or at any of the email addresses below.



  
Kelly Tilden    focuses her practice in the areas of employment  law, business, and litigation. She advises clients regarding the hiring, discipline and termination of employees, compliance with state and federal civil rights, wage and hour laws, and leave laws. Kelly offers practical guidance and experienced-based insight to help employers confidently apply state and federal regulations. She has been s elected by her peers for inclusion in the  Best Lawyers in America ®  2018-2020 for Employment Law - Management.

Contact Kelly at 503.228.6044 or  ktilden@fwwlaw.com

Kim McGair ' practice emphasizes a wide range of litigation matters including employment, commercial litigation, commercial collections, personal injury defense, and real estate litigation. She is an advocate for her clients and provides them with sensible advice and strong representation to protect their interests and help them achieve their objectives as efficiently as possible. Kim was selected by her peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America® 2018-2020 for Commercial Litigation and to the Oregon Super Lawyers list 2019 for commercial litigation.

Contact Kim at 503.228.6044 or  kmcgair@fwwlaw.com


Trish Walsh  focuses her practice in the areas of litigation and employment law, protecting clients' interests inside and outside the courtroom. In her employment practice, Trish drafts, audits and updates policy handbooks and provides advice on employment issues under Oregon, Washington and federal laws.

Contact Trish at 503.228.6044 or  twalsh@fwwlaw.com




Jon Himes  practices in several areas including litigation, employment, and financial services, enabling him to assist clients with a full-range of legal and business challenges. His employment practice focuses on employment litigation and wage and hour laws. 

Contact Jon at 503.228.6044 or  jhimes@fwwlaw.com

 

 

     

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Farleigh Wada Witt. All Rights Reserved.

 

The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion on specific facts and circumstances.

 

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