As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak becomes more acute, employers must consider remote working options and implement emergency communications plans.
While an organization already may have been offering flexible work options to certain teams or job classifications, a public health crisis may propel an employer to scale those options to most, if not all, of its workforce.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that remote work is one strategy to control transmission of the coronavirus. Federal, state and local labor agencies are following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for social distancing and limiting face-to-face contact. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces an employer's legal requirement to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.
Based on these recommendations and compliance requirements, an employer should strongly consider making remote working options available to as many workers as possible. Even if an employee is not generally allowed to work remotely due to particular job duties or the employer's industry (e.g., healthcare), employees with disabilities that put them at high risk for complications associated with COVID-19, or employees who may be pregnant, may request to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation to reduce chances of infection.
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