COVID-19 Has Changed the Workplace: Is Your Handbook Up To Date?

The world has changed significantly due to COVID-19, and business practices have changed along with it. Six-plus months since businesses shifted to remote working and states first mandated stay at home orders, many of our pre-COVID-19 business practices may be history. Now is a good point in time to review our employee handbooks to determine if policies need to be updated, added, or deleted to align with our new business approaches.

Some areas to consider reviewing specifically within your handbook include:

  • Telecommuting Policy: Many handbooks may not include any guidance on telecommuting, or it may state telecommuting is approved on a case-by-case basis. If your organization has moved to more telecommuting for today and into the future, consider updating your handbook to include this practice. You may want to include guidance on expected work hours while telecommuting, internet speed requirements, and when telecommuting is acceptable.
  • Appearance Policy: With the addition of face masks, it begs the question of how up-to-date is your appearance/hygiene policy. Making the policy clear enough to state what is expected of dress at the workplace and on video conferences will help ensure clarity for employees. Be sure your dress code policies also meet any federal or local legal changes as well as address any diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies your company has.
  • Travel Policy: Ask yourself, “Has COVID-19 changed our travel policy?” Consider the short-term and long-term changes you may make to your policy regarding when and where employees are traveling on behalf of your business.
  • Sick, Vacation, and Paid Time Off: Be sure your time off policies are compliant with federal and state law, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Arizona paid sick leave, and Colorado Healthy Families in the Workplace Act.

While you are in the process of updating your policies, taking a look at your documented procedures is good practice as well:

  • Workplace Safety Procedures: Enhanced cleaning procedures that are now part of daily and weekly practice should be included in your safety protocol. This may include your practices for symptom monitoring and how you handle when someone is showing symptoms, including identifying a coordinator responsible for collecting data. Reminder, the coordinator should be someone who is responsible for maintaining confidential information.
  • Visitor Practices: Updating your procedures for visitors is essential to ensure a consistent experience with any outside guest, and so all employees know what is acceptable for non-employees at your place of business.

As the role of employers has required significant adaptation in the last six months, pausing to make sure employees are clear on your updated policies and procedures can pave a smoother path for the next six months for your business operations. Employers Council members get both a legal and HR best practices handbook review annually. Contact us with your questions.