As COVID-19 concerns continue to grow, we have been receiving more and more inquiries regarding matters that impact our clients’ businesses. Our Gunster team stands ready to help you plan and strategize so that you remain prepared during this time. Below are some tips we hope you find useful. We remain ready and willing to answer your questions as they arise.
Tips for Businesses:
(1) Check the CDC and your state’s Department of Health website frequently for industry guidance and implement appropriate policies and procedures. There are several resources available and they are being updated almost daily.
(2) Consider a daily call with staff to discuss questions, new guidelines, how to handle new issues that arise, etc.
(3) Consider which meetings and business items can be handled remotely and start moving to remote meetings. Also, consider work from home programs where appropriate. Consider your system’s ability to handle several employees working remotely at one time. Ensure appropriate confidentiality and security measures are in place to protect confidential information.
(4) Identify and mitigate risk areas in your workspace:
- Ensure workspaces have adequate separation (keep personnel 6 feet apart or more where possible). Consider designated workspaces versus shared workspaces;
- Develop a regular cleaning/disinfecting schedule. Have a conversation with your cleaning staff to ensure they are thoroughly cleaning areas that are frequently touched (e.g., doorknobs, copy machines, etc.) and using appropriate disinfecting chemicals. Do not just assume this is being done correctly;
- Are doors frequently closed or is there a keypad everyone has to touch when coming into the office? Consider propping doors open temporarily during the day with increased security monitoring to avoid having people touch these common items over and over; and
- Do not assume your employees and visitors know how to properly wash their hands. Post instructions and reminders about proper handwashing for at least 20 seconds in bathrooms and other common areas.
(7) Implement appropriate screening and reporting for employees, vendors, and visitors. Create processes and policies to have your employees notify you immediately if they may be at risk related to COVID-19 based on health or travel factors. Similarly, have vendors and visitors fill out screening paperwork regarding recent travel, fever, respiratory issues, and other factors. Implement measures for dealing with symptomatic employees and vendors to prohibit/limit access to the workplace. Implement policies that limit employee travel, particularly out of the country, and have mandatory self-quarantine procedures for 14 days for those who have traveled to at-risk places and/or which are exhibiting medical symptoms.
(8) Consider how you will handle large group events. If you have events planned over the next 8 weeks with 50 or more attendees, consider cancelling the event. Review contract provisions to determine your rights to cancel. Consider the impact of a government-mandated prohibition on such events as well. In addition, for those clients that are the venue for such events, consider reaching out to your customers early, develop alternate plans and rescheduling.
(9) Talk to your staff about preparing for child care options now to avoid short-staffing issues. Many children will be off from school. Consider what additional assistance you can offer your staff in this regard.
(10) Consider flexible PTO options, PTO advances, etc. If employees are worried about using PTO or not getting paid, they are more likely to come to work sick. Congress is working on sick leave legislation, which should be finalized in the upcoming days. Employers should closely monitor this legislation and start preparing for its potential impact.
How Gunster can help:
(1) Assistance in developing and implementing policies and procedures.
(2) Assistance in understanding the interplay between public reporting requirements, privacy rights, as well as assistance with responding to media inquiries.
(3) Monitoring and keeping you up to date with changing federal and state guidance, laws, rules, and regulations in conjunction with our Government Affairs team.
(4) Assistance with HR issues that develop with leave requests and staffing issues.
(5) Assistance in understanding your business’ health insurance coverage options for your employees, particularly related to telehealth visits and mandated coverage.
(6) Assistance with contract performance issues, event cancellations, and business issues arising out of closures.
(7) Evaluating casualty/business insurance policies for potential business interruption and other coverage.
(8) After hours and weekend assistance in dealing with emerging issues (our hours are not just 9 am – 5 pm). Our attorneys are available to assist even on weekends to assist our clients with issues they are facing.
(9) Assistance with networking and putting you in touch with appropriate resources to help meet your needs.
Our Gunster team understands these are challenging times, and we are here to help and support our friends and business clients in any way possible.
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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.
Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 12 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Florida Keys, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With nearly 200 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at www.gunster.com.