When encouraging employees to wash their hands is not enough!

As the COVID-19 virus spreads rapidly throughout the world, and the possibility of a pandemic declaration inches closer each day, much of the advice to employers so far has focused on generic “good hygiene” recommendations from health departments.This advice is of limited utility for employers who have already faced or will soon confront coronavirus cases in their workforce. Companies and government agencies are scrambling to keep up, and difficult but nuanced decisions must be made now. “Wash your hands” simply won’t cut it when you have a confirmed COVID-19 case in your midst.

Baker McKenzie’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Team takes the opposite approach – providing practical, jurisdiction-specific guidance that employers can use to deal with their most pressing COVID-19 issues. This client alert supplements our extensive guidance in our Coronavirus Resource Center, by providing US employers with specific responses to common questions about the virus.

This alert is based on lessons learned in past pandemics. After the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 rose to the level of a pandemic, the EEOC issued an employer resource titled “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act.” We have updated the EEOC’s 2009 guidance to provide employers with answers on what they can and cannot do in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic, in the form of a FAQ and examples.

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