As we get ready to reopen our businesses and offices after the COVID-19 shutdown, one thing is for sure: Reopening does not mean business as usual. We, as a society, will need to develop a “new normal” since COVID-19 will continue to be in our communities. The most important question facing employers and business owners right now, is: What steps must a business take when it reopens in order to protect its employees and customers and mitigate potential liability from COVID-19? 

We at Obermayer are always thinking ahead and providing proactive advice to our clients and contacts as they prepare to take this next step. Below are certain issues that a business must address before reopening. The list is not exhaustive and some of the points may not apply to every business. 

Mitigate business owner’s liability.
  • Providing disclaimers.
  • Execution of releases.

Understand CDC and OSHA guidelines.

Comply with state and local requirements.

Provide legally required notices to both employees and customers.

Establish procedure for returning employees to work.
  • Address non-returning workers.
  • Compliance with ADA.

Establish policy for employees’ health and safety.

Consider additional employee training .
  • General employee safety training.
  • Specific HR and manager training.

Establish policies for customers and other guests entering the business.
  • Requirement of face masks.
  • Access to gloves, sanitizer, and other PPE.
  • Enforcement of social distancing.
  • Feasibility of customers by appointment only.

Determine contact-tracing procedures.
  • Customer sign in.
  • Obtain customer contact information.
  • Maintenance of customer information.

As we navigate this new normal, the guidance for business reopening will shift and change as new information becomes known. Obermayer will continue to stay abreast of these issues and serve as a top resource for our clients and contacts. Obermayer will publish a Getting Back to Business series with content focused on these issues for businesses located in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Subscribe to Obermayer’s HR Legalist and/or Legal Developers blog to obtain free access to the latest content.  
This alert is intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have. We are fully operational during this pandemic and stand ready to assist as you navigate this ongoing and developing COVID-19 situation. 
Visit our COVID-19 Legal Response Team Page here