FREEHOLD, N.J. – Following the announcement of the first presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patient in New Jersey, employers are reconfiguring their HR policies.
Businesses such as banks and law firms, even schools, are wondering how best to react, and what policies they should put in place immediately to keep their employees safe.
Mark Kluger is an employment lawyer at Kluger Healey LLC., creating policies for different companies. He handles everything from sexual harassment to wage-an-hour practices.
Businesses are flocking to him to create coronavirus protocols to enact in their offices immediately.
Kluger says he’s been fielding calls every hour on the hour for the past few weeks from all kinds of companies.
“Some of them ask about particular employees, employees who are traveling overseas and returning, employees that are going on vacation,” explained Kluger. “We’re coming up on spring break. We represent a lot of independent schools that have spring break and they’re concerned about what they do when their students return from various locations around the world.”
Essentially employers want to know how best to protect their work environment:
Who can they force to stay home?
How long they can force this self quarantine?
And do they have to pay their employees?
Kluger has the answers.
“So, if somebody is sick at work, isolate them until they can get home,” he explained. “If they have no symptoms at any time or no exposure, they should go along life as normal. If they have had exposure, you need to assess what that exposure level is according to CDC guidelines. So, if someone has a loved one at home who has been diagnosed or has symptoms, we’re telling employees they can quarantine their employees for 14 days.”
It’s important to note the CDC says that if an employee does test positive for the virus, their employer may not discriminate against them in any way.
Kluger says his clients have also applied some cleanliness protocols in their offices as well, having a cleaning crew come every night as well as frequent cleanings of chairs, desks, keyboards and all screens.