Megan Reuther Discusses How to Handle COVID-19 in the Workplace

Tonkon Torp’s Labor & Employment Practice Group concluded the first round of its coffee break webinar series with a July 30 program featuring attorney Megan Reuther. The topic focused on how to handle a COVID-19 diagnosis in the workplace. A recording of the webinar is below. Webinar viewers are encouraged to follow up directly to ask questions not addressed during the program.

Currently, Oregon is experiencing an uptick in positive COVID-19 case numbers. More businesses will face the reality of having an employee who has tested positive, or that exhibits presumptive positive symptoms in the workplace. This is especially true for employees who can’t telecommute. Megan stressed that having a response plan in place that can be rapidly activated can go a long way in mitigating risk and community spread. While plans should be tailored for individual workplace situations, they should all include written policies and procedures related to COVID-19, appropriate training opportunities, and clear communications to employees about expectations and consequences for non-compliance.

The five main components to a COVID-19 plan include policies and procedures for separating impacted employees from the workforce and their workspace, contact tracing, communication, cleaning, and record keeping. For each of these areas, a fast response to a workplace diagnosis can be facilitated by consistent enforcement, incorporating updated CDC and OSHA guidance, training, timely investigations, and clear communications. She also stressed that it’s vital to maintain employee confidentiality and privacy laws at all times. Megan wrapped up her talk by pointing out ways employers can avoid pitfalls that can slow down a COVID-19 workplace response.

For more information to assist your company during the coronavirus pandemic, consult our COVID-19 Business Resource page, which is continually refreshed with news, alerts, events, and videos that address a broad range of corporate topics.

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