Returning to Work – Questions YOU Need to Ask

From Tiffany Linares, Financial Aid Services.  

During the last few months, only essential businesses were allowed to remain open and they had to constantly adapt to the changing updates. Employers needed to create safer working environments for their employees; anything from extra hand sanitizer, wipes, cleaning sprays to larger safety precautions like plexiglass to provide a barrier between their employees and the customer (ie: restaurants, grocery stores).

As Los Angeles County lifts many of the restrictions on businesses from operating, many people, including some of you will be asked to return to work. Here are some questions YOU NEED to ask your employer before returning.

1. Will Social Distancing Be Practiced?

As you are all aware, “social distancing” has become the motto of 2020. COVID 19 spreads mainly through person to person contact which is why social distancing has become the main precautionary step in limiting the spread. If possible, employers need to provide their employees with a workspace that will allow them to keep a 6 foot distance from one another. Employers will need to physically move around the layout of their place of business to ensure the 6 foot rule is in place and may also  need to create a new staggered shift work schedule to limit the amount of employees in the workplace at a given time.

2. Will Protective Equipment Be Provided?

PPE otherwise known as personal protective equipment has been a key factor in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Wearing these masks limits the spread by keeping your passageways covered thus limiting any possible exposure you have to those around you. Ask your employer if the mask rule will be applied to everyone in the workplace and what they will do if an employee refuses to wear a mask. Ask your employer about providing hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes as well. Whether your employer confirms providing PPE or not, plan on bringing your own supplies anyway. Bring your own mask, hand sanitizer and antiseptic solutions and MOST IMPORTANTLY do NOT forget to regularly wash your hands using the 20 second rule.

3. What Other Precautions Will Be In Place?

As the pandemic continues and more research is being conducted, there is some evidence that even the 6 foot rule of distance is proving to not be enough. The ventilation system in buildings could be allowing the virus to travel farther. Will there be plastic dividing barriers between each workstation? COVID 19 can also be spread through contaminated surfaces. How often will your workplace be getting wiped down? According to the CDC, any surface that is being touched frequently needs to be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis. Ask your employer if each employee will be required to wipe down anything they touch immediately upon touching it.

4. What Happens If An Employee Starts to Show Symptoms of COVID 19?

Many companies have been implementing a temperature check before entering the work area. Ask your employer what they will be doing in terms of screening for precautionary measures but also what they will be doing if an employee falls ill. The temperature screening is not 100% effective as some patients do not show signs of the virus but are still carriers. If you have be in contact with someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you stay isolated at home for 14 days.

5. Can I Continue Working Remotely?

If you have been working from home and do not feel comfortable returning to a physical environment, ask your employer if you can continue with your present work agreement. If you have any type of pre existing condition, you should be covered by the American Disabilities Act. If your employer denies your request, they would need to show that your position requires you to be in the physical workspace.