With the rapid global spread of coronavirus, companies should focus first and foremost on employee safety. And as they’re reviewing their strategies, policies, and procedures, many leaders are specifically wondering about their legal risk. Not having adequate communicable-illness policies and response plans could expose them to a laundry list of HR-related legal concerns.
Most countries have laws designed to protect employees from physical harm at work. In the United States, employees are protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, so if an employee becomes infected at work, in some circumstances the employer may face penalties. Unprepared employers may be exposed to lawsuits related to workers’ compensation, invasion of privacy, discrimination, unfair labor practice, and negligence.
The good news is that with careful attention to employee safety and legal preparedness, employers can minimize employees’ risk of infection and their own legal risks. Following are eight steps companies should take to these ends. The value of these efforts, of course, is relevant to any life-threatening infectious disease, not just coronavirus. [read more]