Pressmaster | Dreamstime
What is on Employees’ Mind About Returning to Work?
What is on Employees’ Mind About Returning to Work?
What is on Employees’ Mind About Returning to Work?
What is on Employees’ Mind About Returning to Work?
What is on Employees’ Mind About Returning to Work?

What's on Employers’ Minds About Returning to Work?

June 8, 2020
As the debate over granting employers “liability shields” to protect against COVID-19 lawsuits rages on in Congress, 71% of in-house counsel are concerned about potential lawsuits upon reopening, according to a new study.

Within the next three months, the majority (78%) of non-essential businesses say they are ready to return to their physical locations, while 34% plan to return within one month.

Other employers are moving more slowly. Only 18%  plan to bring employees back immediately after stay-at-home orders expire. Another 33% will wait a few weeks and 42% plan to take a “wait and see” approach to gauge the outcome of other businesses’ reopening efforts.

These are the findings of a study, COVID-19 Return to Work Survey Report, released by Littler, an employment law practice. 

“While many businesses and their employees are eager to return to a sense of normalcy and resume in-office operations, they face a host of unknowns when it comes to what the workplace looks like in a COVID-19 era,” said Alka Ramchandani-Raj, a leader of Littler’s COVID-19 Task Force. “Particularly given the wide-ranging, and often conflicting, guidelines from state and local officials, employers are left to balance multiple logistical, emotional and legal concerns in determining whether, when and how to reopen their workplaces.”

Employer Liability Concerns

 As the debate over granting employers “liability shields” to protect against COVID-19 lawsuits rages on in Congress, 71% of in-house counsel respondents report being at least somewhat concerned about potential lawsuits upon reopening. Only 6% say that they are not concerned at all.

As for the bevy of claims and lawsuits employers could face, respondents ranked leaves of absence entitlements (68%), unsafe working conditions (59%) and workers’ compensation (43%) as the top three areas in which they expect to see an uptick.

“The wave of COVID-19 litigation has begun in haste and poses a real threat to employers, most of whom are already grappling with the economic fallout from this pandemic,” said Michael Lotito, Co-Chair of Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute. “In the face of so much uncertainty, legislative safeguards and clear guidance from federal and state agencies are important in providing employers with sufficient confidence to reopen their workplaces – and to do so in compliance with the law.”

Safety Efforts

As far as ensuring the safety of employees, employers are taking numerous steps, including:

  • increased cleaning (90%)
  • limiting employee contact in common areas  (87%)
  •  providing and/or encouraging the use of face coverings or other protective gear (86%)
  •  modifying workspaces to maintain safe distances (78%).

More than half (58%) of respondents also plan to conduct testing or health screenings on employees, with most referring to temperature checks (89%) and symptom screenings (72%) and a small number selecting antibody (8%) and antigen (7%) tests.

Yet while the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released some guidance about screening employees for COVID-19, uncertainty remains around implementation, privacy matters and litigation risks.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to returning to work, which makes the process all the more challenging for employers,” said Melissa Peters, a leader of Littler’s COVID-19 Task Force. “However, in the health and safety realm, communications and training have always played a vital role and are especially paramount now given the stress and anxiety everyone is under as the pandemic continues to unfold.”

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Decarbonizing Your Supply Chain: Striving for Net Zero

Feb. 12, 2024
Manufacturers face mounting pressure to decarbonize operations and supply chains. Meeting regulatory goals demands bold action and transparency. Collaboration with suppliers offers...

How Technology is Reshaping Manufacturing: Trends in 2024 and Beyond

Feb. 26, 2024
Explore how technology reshapes manufacturing in our webinar. Uncover solutions to operational inefficiencies, talent shortages, and sustainability challenges. Transform obstacles...

5 IT Trends Shaping the Digital Workplace in 2023

June 14, 2023
Today’s organizations have goals prioritizing community, flexibility, autonomy, efficiency, and accountability. IT teams are adopting new ways to engage employees in today’s modern...

Five Tips for Choosing the Right AMR to Improve Worker Productivity

Jan. 24, 2024
Here are five top tips to consider before selecting an AMR to increase productivity for your enterprise.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!