Updating Handbook Policies in Light of COVID-19

As businesses look toward reopening to a new normal, now is a good time to review and update your employee handbooks. Specifically:

• Teleworking is likely here to stay, so employers should implement teleworking policies to address issues regarding eligibility and approval, timekeeping, equipment, workers’ compensation, and more.  

• Employers should review attendance and overtime policies, to address issues regarding schedules, absences, and work hours, and to prohibit nonexempt employees from working outside their scheduled work hours without prior approval.  

• Employers should consider modifying attendance policies to include any applicable screening procedures. For purposes of contact tracing, employers should also maintain records of who is in the workplace at any point in time.  

• Employers should consider implementing policies regarding the expanded use of Family and Medical Leave Act leave and emergency paid sick leave regarding COVID-19-related reasons, in compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and any applicable related state COVID-19 leave laws. Since the FFCRA only applies for a limited time, you may want to consider keeping these policies separate from your handbook if you only revise your handbook every few years.

• Employers should implement policies regarding technology and confidential information, to safeguard confidential and proprietary information and maintain the right to access devices utilized to perform company business.  

• Employers should consider reimbursing the cost of supplies for employees working remotely, personal protective equipment costs if applicable, and/or commuting expenses so that employees can avoid public transportation, and update expense reimbursement policies accordingly.  

• To maintain social distancing guidelines, employers should implement policies and signage regarding:   (i) use of common areas, kitchens, bathrooms, coffee machines, etc.; (ii) advance notice, screening, restrictions, and limit on number of visitors; and (iii) wearing masks, gloves, cleaning work areas, hand-washing and sanitizing.  

Shulman Rogers attorneys are available to answer questions and help you review and update your policies, tailored to the specific needs of your workplace.   Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this Alert or would like to discuss this topic further.

Contact info: Meredith S. Campbell Chair, Employment and Labor Group
Shulman Rogers [email protected] | T 301.255.0550 | F 301.230.2891