SAMPLE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Policy For Non-Retail Businesses

Policy purpose
Protecting the health and well-being of our employees is a top priority. To that end, we have developed a proactive plan designed to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our workplace. Because the COVID-19 public health emergency is rapidly evolving, this plan is subject to change. Thank you for your cooperation.

Policy elements
Preventing the Spread of Infection in the Workplace
The firm will work with each office building’s management to help ensure a clean workplace, including the regular cleaning of objects and areas that are frequently used, such as bathrooms, breakrooms, conference rooms, door handles and railings. A Pandemic Safety Committee has been designated to monitor and coordinate events around an infectious disease outbreak, as well as to create and implement work rules to promote safety through infection control. The Pandemic Safety Committee consists of [insert names]. In addition, each office will have a Pandemic Safety Officer, as follows:

• [insert names]

Please direct any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19-related issues to the Pandemic Safety Officer designated for your office or to a member of the Pandemic Safety Committee.

We ask all employees to cooperate in taking steps to reduce the transmission of infectious disease in the workplace. The best strategy remains the most obvious – frequent hand washing (follow the 20-second hand washing rule); cough/sneeze into your sleeve, preferably into your elbow; if you use a tissue, discard it properly and clean/sanitize your hands immediately; and avoid touching your face, particularly eyes, nose and mouth with your hands to prevent from getting infected. When leaving the office space for any reason, wear masks to the extent required by local and state law and sanitize hands upon re-entering the office space. The firm will install alcohol-based sanitizers and/or disinfectant wipes throughout the workplace and in common areas and will develop a protocol for regular sanitization of common areas and equipment within the office space. All firm personnel will be expected to participate in and assist with the regular sanitization of common areas and equipment within the office space.

Until further notice, it is a mandatory requirement for employees and visitors to wear masks while in the office, except when eating or drinking. [Revise per state guidelines]. The firm will supply masks to employees and any visitors. Employees may wear their own masks, if compliant with CDC or state department of health guidelines and approved by the firm.

Unless otherwise notified, our normal attendance and leave policies will remain in place. Individuals who believe they may face particular challenges returning to work upon the re-opening of the office should take steps to develop any necessary contingency plans. For example, employees might want to arrange for alternative sources of child care should school or childcare providers remain closed and/or speak with your designated Pandemic Safety Officer about the potential to work from home temporarily or on an alternative work schedule.

Staying home when sick

• During an infectious disease outbreak, it is critical that employees not report to work while they are ill and/or experiencing the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or at least two of the following – fever, chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. Employees who report to work ill will be sent home in accordance with these health guidelines. Stay home until CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met.
• If you have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, advise your Pandemic Safety Officer, a member of the Pandemic Safety Committee or the Firm Administrator and stay home until CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met.
• If you have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, you can return to the office only after you have fully recovered and are in compliance with CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation. You may be required to provide a doctor’s note confirming your recovery.

Requests for medical information and/or documentation

• If you are out sick or show symptoms of being ill, it may become necessary to request information from you and/or your health provider. In general, we would request information to confirm your need to be absent, to show whether and how an absence relates to the infection, and to know that it is appropriate for you to return to work. As always, we expect and appreciate your cooperation if and when medical information is sought.
• All employee medical and health information will be treated as confidential pursuant to applicable law.

Telework requests

• Telework requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis. While not all positions will be eligible, all requests for temporary teleworking should be submitted to your office’s Pandemic Safety Officer for consideration.
• You should request to telework if:

o You are feeling ill, but you are able to work.
o You have been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19. You will be asked not to come into physical contact with any colleagues during this time.
o You’re a parent and need to stay home with your child(ren) because your child(ren)’s school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19, and you are unable to find alternative child care arrangements.
o You need to provide care to a family member infected by COVID-19. You will be permitted to return to the office 14 calendar days after your family member has fully recovered, provided that you are asymptomatic or you have a doctor’s note confirming you don’t have the virus. You will be asked not to come into physical contact with any colleagues during this time.

Travel/Commuting

• All nonessential travel should be avoided until further notice. Employees who travel as an essential part of their jobs should consult their designated Pandemic Safety Officer if there is any question about whether travel is appropriate. Business-related travel outside the United States will not be authorized until further notice.
• Employees should avoid crowded public transportation when possible. Contact your designated Pandemic Safety Officer if you would like to discuss alternative scheduling or commuting options.

Social Distancing Guidelines
Employees are requested to:

• Avoid meeting people face to face. Employees are encouraged to use the telephone, online conferencing, email or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
• If a face to face meeting is unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room and maintain a social distance of 6 feet. Avoid person to person contact such as shaking hands. Until further notice, any in-person meeting or gathering is not to exceed 10 people at one time.
• Avoid any unnecessary travel and cancel or postpone nonessential in-person meetings, gatherings, workshops and training sessions.
• Do not congregate in work rooms, pantries, copier rooms or other areas where people socialize.
• Bring lunch and eat at your desk or away from others (avoid lunchrooms and crowded restaurants).

Protocol to be Followed in Event of Probable or Confirmed Case of Covid-19 in the Workplace

• The area(s) and equipment used or visited by the person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 will be closed-off and disinfected.
• Employees who were in close contact (within 6 feet for about 10 minutes) with a person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 from the period 48 hours before symptom onset to the time at which the patient isolated will be identified. If an employee believes he or she has been in close contact with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace during the specified timeframe, please advise your designated Pandemic Safety Officer, a member of the Pandemic Safety Committee or the Firm Administrator immediately.

o Employees who remain asymptomatic should adhere to the practices set out by the CDC in its April 8, 2020 Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practice for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.
o Any employee who becomes sick during the day will be sent home immediately. The process of disinfecting and contact-tracing will then be repeated with regard to that employee.

• Any employee who was in close contact with any known exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace will be promptly notified, consistent with applicable confidentiality laws.
• Temperature screenings will be conducted before employees start work for at least 14 days after an exposure. Any employee with an elevated temperature of 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher will be sent home.
• Employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath) should notify their designated Pandemic Safety Officer and stay home.
• Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps and should not return to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments. Employees who have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis can return to the office only after they have fully recovered and may be required to provide a doctor’s note confirming their recovery.

Melissa R. Lock is a Partner in our Pennsylvania office.