Is It Safe To Go Back To Work?
As places around the country start to open back up, more people are heading back to work. Whether you’ve been dying to get out of the house and back to the grind, or you’ve gotten used to working in your pajamas, your employer may expect you on location soon.
Given the fact that the pandemic is a long way from over, you probably have a lot of questions for your employer regarding how they’re going to keep and your coworkers healthy.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask your employer before returning to work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Do I Need To Come Back To Work Or Can I Keep Teleworking?
While working from home simply isn’t an option for many employees, if you’ve been teleworking since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, it is entirely reasonable to ask your employer if you can continue working from home, even if you are now allowed to go into the office.
If you have risk factors for severe COVID-19, like obesity or underlying lung, heart, liver, or kidney disease, you should be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To deny you the ability to work from home, your employer must prove that you absolutely must come into the office to be able to do your job properly.
If nothing else, your employer might offer a compromise such as allowing you to work from home three days a week if you come into the office twice a week.
Will Social Distancing Be Practiced?
The novel coronavirus is thought to spread primarily through person to person contact. Social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from other people – is thought to be the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.
If you typically work elbow to elbow with your coworkers, you should ask your employer if and how social distancing will be practiced.
Office layouts may change, physical barriers may be put into place, or work shifts might be staggered to help implement social distancing at your workplace.
Will Protective Equipment Be Provided and/or Required?
Will your employer provide masks, gloves, or hand sanitizer? If you work with the public, these items may be required or recommended to help stop the spread of the disease and protect you and your customers.
Masks, in particular, are crucial to help slow the spread of COVID-19 since they help contain contagious respiratory droplets, and people may be contagious for several days before they start showing symptoms.
What Other Precautions Will Be in Place?
While COVID-19 is thought to spread primarily through person to person contact, it may still be possible to contract it by touching contaminated surfaces.
Will your employer be instituting enhanced cleaning procedures to help reduce contact transmission? How often will high-touch surfaces like door handles, phones, and light switches be disinfected? Who will be responsible for the additional cleaning and disinfecting?
What Happens If an Employee Has COVID-19 or Shows Symptoms?
Will your employer be screening employees when they come into work every day? What will that screening look like – a questionnaire about symptoms, temperature checks, or both? What happens if an employee has COVID-19 or is showing symptoms?
The CDC recommends that anybody who is showing symptoms of or who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus should avoid contact with other people until:
- 3 days with no fever and
- Symptoms improved and
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared
If you get sick, will your employer pay you to stay home for 10 days? Will you need to stay home without pay? Will sick employees be allowed to work if they need the money?
For Restaurant Workers – Will I Still Be Employed When PPP Runs Out?
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was enacted into law at the beginning of April and provided some money for restaurants and other businesses to continue to pay their employees. These loans will be forgiven if employers hire the employees back into their same or equivalent positions by the end of June.
The PPP provides eight weeks of pay. You should ask your employer whether they will be able to afford to keep you on after those eight weeks are up. Each business will likely have different plans on how to handle that transition.
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How Can PlushCare Help?
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If you want to talk to a doctor with any questions you have, you can make an appointment any time by clicking here or calling (888)798-0620.
If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms PlushCare can overnight an at-home testing kit to your door. Learn more about at-home coronavirus testing here.
We also can provide you with an antibody testing order. This test checks to see if you’ve had COVID-19 in the past and may indicate immunity. If you’re insured and in-network your appointment is free!
Read More About COVID-19
Consumer Reports. Going Back to Work While COVID-19 Is Still Spreading. Accessed on June 9, 2020 at https://www.consumerreports.org/coronavirus/going-back-to-work-while-covid-19-is-still-spreading/
Eater. Six Questions Restaurant Workers Should Ask Their Employers Before Returning to Work. Accessed on June 9, 2020 at https://www.eater.com/2020/5/12/21254864/ppp-restaurant-employee-questions-before-returning-to-work-safety-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic
Science Daily. Underlying illness risk factors for severe COVID-19 or death. Accessed on June 10, 2020 at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200601101308.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What you should know about COVID-19 to protect yourself and others. Accessed on June 10, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19. Accessed on June 10, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/end-home-isolation.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprevent-getting-sick%2Fwhen-its-safe.html