The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted normal business life currently and for the foreseeable future. “Business as usual” is no longer a realistic expectation. We should expect a new normal once people are permitted to reoccupy their office space.

What should law firms do to ensure their employees’ safety and make certain that policies are compliant with revised labor laws and public safety?

Monitor the Health of Employees To Prevent Spread of the Virus

To start with, firms should consider supplying all employees with disposable masks that have to be worn throughout the day.

People with temperatures above normal should not be permitted access to the premises. Because obtaining thermometers may be expensive for the firm, it may make more sense to see if the landlord will pay for them. After all, it’s in the property owner’s best interest to monitor the health of those entering the building. In addition, because receptionists and security personnel are not medical professionals, it may be prudent to provide them with screening questionnaires for all guests to complete prior to entering the premises.

Stagger Schedules to Minimize Exposure

To avoid delays and maintain 6-foot social distancing for those entering the premises, it may be wise to stagger employee work hours. Start clock-in hours at 8:00 a.m., 8:15 a.m., and so on.

The firm may want to stagger workdays, as well, and ask some employees to work two or three days a week remotely. Make sure to provide these employees with a work-from-home policy and get a signed receipt of the policy from each of them. These policies should include detailed information about avoiding cybersecurity risks and the sharing of confidential information. Non-exempt employees will need to continue to track hours worked to ensure they are compliant with local labor laws.

As remote work continues, firms may want to re-evaluate their document management and cloud environments. With core staff back in the office, this may be an opportune time to make changes. With any policies implemented, be sure to comply with HIPAA laws …

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