In late March, most businesses were required to stop in-office work under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order. Similarly, the Baseline Phase and Phase 1 of Oregon’s reopening plan generally prohibited in-office work when telework or work-from-home options were available. If telework and work-from-home options were not available, in-office work was allowed if employers designated an employee or officer to establish, implement, and enforce physical distancing policies.
For counties entering Phase 2, Governor Brown’s recent Executive Order 20-27 allows employers to begin “limited return to office work” regardless of the availability of remote work options. Key threshold steps in returning employees to the office require employers to establish physical distancing policies and educate employees on the requirements. Employers should think critically about physical distancing policies, taking care to engineer the in-office experience in a way that minimizes in-person contact. The following criteria, along with Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) General Guidance for Employers on COVID-19, should be considered when crafting physical distancing policies:
- Hand washing and sanitation protocols
- Engineering workspaces to maintain appropriate social distancing
- Creating one-way paths through the workplace to limit face-to-face contact
- Avoiding in-person meetings
- Clearly defining expectations for employees’ use of masks or face coverings
- Creating protocols for business-critical visitors
- Addressing food and beverage consumption in common areas
- Limiting business-related travel to necessary functions
Despite an understandable desire to return all employees to the office, it may not be in an employer’s best interest to require its entire workforce to return at once. The Governor’s order stresses that remote work is still recommended to the extent practical. Employers may consider waiting to return employees to the office, or allowing a reduced number of employees back to the office, if telework or work-from-home remains feasible. Also, many offices may be faced with constraints in the physical space that would hinder effective physical distancing. Community spread of the virus is still a very real concern and workplaces have been at the center of many recent COVID-19 outbreaks.
Each office space and workforce is unique and presents specific considerations when crafting effective physical distancing policies. We encourage employers to proactively reach out to counsel to clarify protocols and best practices when returning employees to the office.
For questions related to Phase 2 reopening or for any other circumstances related to COVID-19, contact our team at 503-228-0500.
Electronic Alerts are written by Barran Liebman attorneys for their clients and friends. Alerts are not intended as legal advice, but as employment law, labor law, and employee benefits announcements. If this has been forwarded to you, and you would like to begin receiving Electronic Alerts directly, please email or call Traci Ray at 503-276-2115. Copyright ©2021 by Barran Liebman LLP.
Las Alertas electrónicas son escritas por abogados de Barran Liebman para sus clientes y amigos. Las Alertas no son proveídas como asesoramiento legal, sino solo como anuncios de leyes de empleo, leyes laborales y beneficios de empleo. Si esto ha sido remetido a usted y quisieras empezar a recibir las Alertas directamente, por favor mándanos un correo electrónico o llama a Traci Ray al 503-276-2115. Derechos de autor ©2021 por Barran Liebman LLP.