What Are Your Legal Responsibilities When it Comes to Protecting Your Employees from Contracting COVID-19?

What Are Your Legal Responsibilities When it Comes to Protecting Your Employees from Contracting COVID-19?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Scott Dylan Westerlund
 | 
A whopping 8 out of 10 employees say that the coronavirus pandemic will likely force companies to be more responsible. One reason why is because those companies had to make accommodations for their employees during the pandemic, and they’ll likely continue to need to do so for years to come.

As an employer, you may not have been aware of your legal obligation to protect your employees prior to the pandemic. You may not have understood why you were subject to mandates from the government and why you had to shut down. If you’re not sure what your legal obligations are when it comes to your employees, then it’s time to learn. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that your business will thrive in the post-pandemic era.

Your Guide to Employer Responsibilities and Employee Rights

So, what exactly are your legal obligations and employer responsibilities? There are so many laws that regulate your actions as an employer. You’ll not only need to understand the federal law but also the state and local laws in your area, too. Some of the most obvious and common employer responsibilities include:
  • Creating a workplace free of serious and recognized hazards
  • Ensuring that your workplace adheres to OSHA safety standards
  • Providing employees with safety equipment
  • Posting clear signs to warn employees about potential hazards
  •  Creating and updating safety and health standards
  • Maintaining records of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • Creating a workplace free of discrimination
  •  Paying your employees the minimum wage or more
  • Providing reasonable breaks
  • Treating employees equally under the civil rights and disability acts
  •  Keeping your employee’s personal information private

While the list above seems pretty extensive, it’s far from the only obligations you have as an employer. Depending on the law in your area, you’ll also likely need to buy worker’s compensation insurance to further protect your employees in the event that they do get hurt or fall ill at work.

It's also important for your employees to know their rights, too. You should post a list of the relevant laws for your employees so that they’re informed.

What Are My Legal Responsibilities During COVID-19?

In a nutshell, you need to take reasonable steps to ensure your employee’s safety. This obligation isn’t just a moral one but a legal one. If you fail to uphold that duty, then you could be held financially, legally, or even criminally responsible for the fallout.

Before COVID-19, the law seemed pretty straightforward. Once the pandemic hit, though, everything seemed to change. Suddenly, public health took a front seat. Many employers were asked to start requiring masks, limiting the number of patrons they accept, and even temporarily shutting down. Before the pandemic, such restrictions likely would have constituted a hardship on many small businesses, but that’s changed due to the severity of the virus situation.

Now, it’s not considered an undue burden for businesses to take extreme measures against COVID-19. Businesses are not only expected to but required to ask their patrons to wear masks, put markers on the floor for social distancing, and provide all their employees with the proper PPE. On top of that, employers are expected to provide accommodations for employees who are vulnerable to COVID-19 where reasonable. If working from home is possible, then employers are expected to allow telecommuting for the duration of the pandemic.

While you aren't expected to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you are expected to take reasonable steps to curb the spread at your place of business.

Ensure Your Business is Compliant Now

Running a business takes a lot of work. Not only do you have to make sure that you uphold your employer responsibilities and employee rights, but you also need to make sure you’re making a profit, too. You need to delegate responsibilities, create schedules, and hire quality employees. The list goes on and on. That’s a lot of work for anyone!

So, how can you ensure that your business remains compliant and on top of the latest changes to employer/employee law? One of the best things you could do is seek out the advice of a business lawyer. Staying in touch with a local lawyer can help keep you on the right side of the law.

If you’re seeking out the advice of a business lawyer, then we can help you get in touch with one. Head over to our lawyer search area now to find a qualified and local attorney who can assist you with all of your business’s legal needs.


This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps. 
Scott Dylan Westerlund

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