As employers focus on reopening, reinstating employees, and operating during a pandemic, they must also turn their attention to the use of technology to fend off COVID-19 challenges to their bottom line.
Prevention and identification of COVID-19 cases
COVID-19 has created new challenges for employers resuming operations. Employers are required to provide a safe workplace for employees and vendors, and a safe environment for patrons/ customers. Employers with employees in multiple states and localities have turned to technology to track the complex (and sometimes contradictory) requirements established by the CDC, OSHA, state, and local agencies. Technology solutions enable employers to comply with multiple rules and manage health screening questionnaires that employees and vendors are required to complete daily. These questionnaires are completed on-line via a laptop/tablet or smartphone (through a COVID-19 app) before the employee or vendor enters the workplace, reducing the risk of exposure. The system also alerts employers when one or more employees are a COVID-19 risk and instructs the employee to either isolate or quarantine. As the employer is notified immediately if an employee is asked to stay home, employers can proceed to assess if the employee should be placed on a leave of absence. Employers subject to the the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), generally those with less than 500 employees, are required to offer paid sick leave for up to 10 days (80 hours) to employees who test positive for COVID-19 or are advised by a medical professional to quarantine due to COVID-19. Employers exempt from complying with the FFCRA may be subject to state sick leave laws and/or disability programs that provide employees with salary continuation and/or job protected leave due to COVID-19. By processing leaves of absence rapidly, employees are discouraged from coming to work if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, as their pay will not be delayed for weeks.
Tracking COVID-19 Cases and their Administration
Once an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and is asked to isolate, the system can aid the employer with contact tracing (identifying other employees who were in close contact with the infected employee) and in some cases, contacting the local public health department. Some solutions rely on employees’ tokens (embedded in their smart phones) to identify who the employee was in close contact with at work (within six feet for 15 minutes or longer), while others require employees to disclose the name of employees they were in contact with.
COVID-19 technology solutions also track the timeframes employees are required to remain in isolation or quarantine, per CDC guidelines, and instruct employers on special rules governing employees’ reinstatement. COVID-19 solutions can also provide employers with reports that track ‘hot spots’ to ensure adequate training, sanitation and social distancing guidelines are being followed.
Having access to a COVID-19 technology solution is an essential part of employer’s reopening efforts, especially in states were COVID-19 may be presumed to be a work-related injury covered by Workers’ Compensation. Technology plays a critical role in ensuring employers remain open and focus on what they know best, their business.