COVID-19 -> HR Help for Employers

Times are filled with uncertainty right now. I feel it. I know you’re feeling it too. In fact, I know you’re feeling it because today has been chocked full of emails and calls about it.

I’ve been thinking about how I can help? How could I give you all a virtual hug (germ-free of course) full of HR warmth and vitamins of information? (I just laughed to myself since I’ve never heard “HR warmth” before…we tend to be categorized as “cold.” Sorry HR folks.)

So here’s a one-two punch to COVID-19 fears/concerns in the workplace:

#1 Stay calm.  

Breath with me….count three inhale…count three exhale (repeat until you feel centered). Everything is going to be okay. If you’re like me and need an extra push to a calm state take a magnesium supplement. I use one literally called, “Calm.” You thought I was going to say I smoke weed, didn’t you? Listen…if that’s your thing then by all means.

#2 If you’ve sent or if you’re planning on sending employees home to work:

  • If they have the proper equipment to do so that’s awesome! Problem. Solved.
  • Make sure you have security measures in place to protect your information.
  • Clearly communicate expectations for working from home (read the next one cuz it’ll have that in it).
  • Have employees execute a “Telecommuting Agreement.” Luckily we have one for you right here*.
  • Use our “Telecommuting Policy and Procedure” if you don’t already have one.
  • If you have some employees who cannot work from home due to lack of proper equipment or resources (laptops, wifi, etc) consider getting them what they need to do so. It could be construed as discriminatory if those that do not have those resources belong to a group effected by socioeconomic status.

*These agreements are from us and we’re not attorneys so please use at your own risk (like public bathrooms).

#3 If you have to close your doors temporarily or even permanently (aka it’s a layoff):

It’s okay. You will recover. You’re resilient. You’ve been through worse.

  • For all employees affected make a communication plan:
  • –Tell them when the doors are closing.
  • –How and how often will you communicate the state of the business (i.e. twice a week we’ll email you to tell you where we are at and when we’ll be opening again).
  • –Tell them they’re entitled to unemployment…that there is pay available for them while not working.
  • –Tell them you care about their wellbeing.
  • For California employers, make sure you have the following for final paperwork:
  • Notice to Employee as to Change in Relationship Form
  • –Booklet “Programs for the Unemployed” aka how to file for unemployment (Spanish version here)
  • HIPP Program Notice
  • –Final Pay is due at the time of termination
  • –Payout all PTO and Vacation, too
  • If you have health insurance make sure they get their COBRA paperwork. If you’re under 20 employees then your health carrier should do it for you. Double-check with your broker.
  • If you’re in another state and you want to know what final paperwork and pay you’re required to do, email me.
  • Oh, and if you’re on payroll guess what, you’re entitled to unemployment, too. File if you need to.

#4 If your workforce is still at work and they’re not going anywhere:

  • Use our handy memo to communicate how you’re handling the situation, the pay they can take if they’re sick and how effing clean you’re keeping the office and they should keep themselves.
  • If you’ve got it, hand sanitizer for the office.
  • CLEAN everything.
  • Use these fun CDC infographics (print ‘em out and hang ‘em up):
  • –“Stop the Spread of Germs
  • COVID-19 – super pack of two posters in English and Spanish
  • If they have to take time off to care for loved ones who are ill they may be entitled to Paid Family Leave in California. Here is a pamphlet from the EDD you can give them (Spanish version here).

#5 Sick Pay. Vacation Pay. Paid Time Off.

Let your employees know they have paid time off benefits and they can be used if they themselves are sick or if they are caring for a loved one who is sick. Some states or even cities require sick pay be offered and soon, the federal government may require it (there’s a bill being passed right now but I’ll keep you posted on if/when it gets signed into law by President Trump). Make sure you know what applies to where you have your employees working.

#6 What if I have an employee in/out of the office that is sick. Can I ask about it?

Yes BUT be careful how you ask. We can’t ask about symptoms (it could be construed as discriminatory under ADA) but under the circumstance to keep the workplace safe we can ask specifically about COVID-19 symptoms. “Thank you for staying home while sick. In the interest of keeping all employees as safe as possible, we’d like to know if you are having any symptoms of COVID-19. Are you experiencing fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath?” If so, require a doctor’s note for a safe return to work. Also, keep this information confidential btw.

#7 If you are still worried and/or confused after reading this and you need my help. 

Reach out to book time with me. I’ll walk you through it. If you have friends, family, colleagues who are scared and don’t know what to do employment/employer-wise. Have them call me free of charge. I’ll help in any way I can.

#8 ThinkHR is putting on a free webinar tomorrow. 

Register here if you’d like to join and get more info (just promise me you won’t allow it to stress you out more).

#9 We’re all going to be okay. (virtual hug) 

With Gratitude (and very, very clean hands),

-LeiLani