Chamber Blog

Checklist for Employers Reopening Business

May 13, 2020 | Erin Shaughnessy; DBL Law

As states begins to lift social distancing restrictions and stay at home orders, many employers and workplaces face the reality of how a post-quarantine work environment and work force will look like.  As these restrictions and orders slowly start to lift, it is important that employers develop a plan to reopen.  These policies should continue to comply with CDC, WHO, and individual state guidance, while also complying with employment laws.  Below is a checklist of items that employers should consider when preparing for re-opening.  Employers must then communicate, train and enforce the plan.

Prepare for Re-Opening

Develop a plan that includes:

  • Designate a point person for questions or concerns
  • Place posters around the office indicating proper procedures for social distancing, screening, hand-washing and cleaning, and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) (The CDC has printable posters)
  • Provide soap, sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, thermometers, and PPE such as masks and gloves for employees
    • If employees wish to use their own PPE, make sure to set out guidelines for what is and is not acceptable
  • Sanitize the office regularly
  • Communicate new guidelines and procedures with employees before allowing any employee to return to work

Review and Implement Policies

Review and update work policies related to

  • Attendance, leaves of absences, the Family Medical Leave Act, and paid time off in anticipation of COVID-19 related absences (this also includes leave requests under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act)
  • Telework options and guidelines
  • Reporting safety issues
  • Create a procedure for tracking COVID-19 cases and providing notice for any employees possibly exposed to the virus within the workplace
  • Draft a policy that sets out return to work guidelines for employees that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19
  • Ensure that employees and supervisors are aware and understand current and new policies and how these policies will be monitored and enforced

Protect Employees at Work

Next, employers should take steps to protect their employees while at work. Employers should:

  • Maintain telework if possible
    • If not possible, consider returning to work in phases
    • Some states are only allowing employers in certain industries to open at a reduced capacity
  • If it is not possible to maintain telework, continue to hold meetings virtually or over the phone to reduce face-to-face interaction
  • Use electronic communications in lieu of paper
  • Institute screening procedures
    • Require temperature checks upon entrance to the workplace
    • Require employees with possible COVID-19 symptoms to stay home
    • Institute and require similar screening for any visitors prior to entrance
  • Maintain social distancing practices
    • Maintain the recommended 6 foot distance between employees in the workspace and common gathering areas.
    • Consider closing common areas where employees are likely to congregate or limit the number of people allowed in such areas.
    • Stagger break times so there is limited congregating in break rooms or other common areas
    • If the employers business requires face-to-face interaction between the employee and a customer, utilize clear shield and barriers to protect employees
  • Emphasize proper cleaning and hygiene
    • Encourage employees to practice good hygiene including
      • frequently washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces
      • avoid touching your face
      • practice proper sneezing and coughing etiquette
    • Encourage employees to avoid unnecessary contact with others such as handshakes
    • Require employees to disinfect common surfaces and devices after use such as keypads, computers, tablets, remotes, or any other device that may be touched by other people during the day
    • Require employees to wear masks as they enter and leave the office and when they may encounters others such as in the bathrooms, hallways, or in the kitchen or breakroom
    • If the workplace requires use of PPE, ensure that employees understand proper use
    • Enforce these policies consistently

Final Considerations

  • Check federal and state guidelines and restrictions regularly for updates
    • The CDC continues to issue guidance which can be found here.
    • Federal Opening Up America Again Guidelines can be found here.
    • Many states have also set out detailed plans for re-opening the economy and have established sector specific guidance for return to work.
    • Kentucky Healthy at Work Guidance can be found here.
    • Responsible Restart Ohio Guidance can be found here.

Erin Shaughnessy is an attorney with DBL Law, a full-service law firm representing businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals. The firm has over 40 attorneys and offices in Louisville, Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. For information, visit or call 502.572.2500.