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The Pandemic Isn’t Over. Employers Need to Keep Safety and Health Protocols in Place.

July 8, 2020

By Michael Burns courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Though so far Michigan has not experienced a hard resurgence of Coronavirus like Florida and Texas, it has also not seen a significant reduction in cases and is starting to see an uptick in daily cases.

Employers are implementing safety protocols as workers are returning. According to the newest Willis Towers Watson study, half its respondents identify safety as its top priority for reopening. Employee questionnaires and thermal scanning are at the top of front-line safety procedures being implemented. In addition, office reconfiguration to promote social distancing along with mask requirements are now an everyday part of employer health and safety initiatives.

ASE polled its members in a recent EPTW Poll of the Week on whether contact tracing has been implemented as a formal part of the employee screening process. 75% of respondents reported they had a formal plan and tools in place to do contact tracing (defined as a formal process for identifying workers who might have been exposed to another employee who has be diagnosed with COVID-19).

That said employers are also in the early stages of cutting personnel costs. This will be the next stage of business necessary as employers address the pandemic’s impact on their business. More than ¼ of employers surveyed by Willis Towers Watson are now cutting salaries and reducing staff to re-balance budgets going into the second half of the year. This is following furloughs and reduced hours when returning to work.

As cases again begin to rise, employees will be reticent to return to an in-person work situation. Employers must be ready to respond with clear communication on safety measures and be ready to respond to discrimination complaints arising from perceived bias around protected class issues such as disability, age, gender, or race. Employees being brought back may require new benefit elections to address changes to their domestic employment and financial circumstances.

It is reported that 66% of employers are following state and local governmental guidance as well as local health department expert’s guidance, while only 13% stated they would follow federal government guidance. This statistic is concerning given that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recognized as the leading authority federally.

In Michigan employers should be consulting federal, state, and local authorities while understanding that the Governor’s Executive Orders use local pandemic data to manage the regional areas being impacted the most.

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