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WORKPLACE SAFETY

Most of your law office employees are vaccinated. Now what?

By Lynne Curry bio Most of your office staff have received vaccines. Those who remain unvaccinated either haven’t decided whether they will or have refused to get vaccinated. What’s next? Can you relax your workplace protocols? New CDC guidance In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided new COVID-19 guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.1 Fully vaccinated individuals may interact indoors with other vaccinated individuals without wearing masks or physical distancing. Fully vaccinated individuals, except for those who live in a group setting or themselves experience COVID-19 symptoms, no longer need to quarantine and test if they’ve been around someone who has COVID-19.2 Fully vaccinated individuals do need to wear a well-fitted mask, physically distance and practice other prevention protocols when interacting with unvaccinated individuals from multiple… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

How to deal with new friction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated

By Lynne Curry bio After five employees boarded an elevator, two additional employees attempted to get on as well. One of the employees already on the elevator asked these two not to board. “We can’t remain six feet apart if you get on.” One of the employees wanting to board said, “It’s only a short distance.” After the employees arrived on their floor, the back and forth between these two employees continued. “Your mask isn’t on tight.” “I’m okay with it.” “Are you vaccinated?” “I don’t trust the vaccines.” “You put the rest of us at risk.” “If you’re vaccinated, you have nothing to worry about.” “Not if you contract a variant, infect the rest of us, and we take the problem home to our families.” In workplaces across the… . . . read more

Don’t write a positive reference for a problem employee; instead…

By Lynne Curry bio Question: After an investigation, we fired one of our employees for threatening and stalking two co-workers. He now demands a positive letter of reference, which I’m writing. I tried to appease him with an innocuous letter that gave the dates on which he’d worked here along with what his job duties were.  He refused to accept this, and frankly he scares me. Can you give me any pointers for writing a reference letter that sounds positive but not too positive? Answer: Yes: Don’t. If you write a falsely positive or even neutral reference, you can be sued for “negligent referral,” defined as “the failure of an employer to disclose complete and factual information about a former or current employee to another employer.” True story When Allstate… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

How to create an enhanced cleaning and disinfection policy for your office

In the age of COVID-19, complying with the rigorous hygiene requirements of OSHA and other standards may not be enough. That’s because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health guidelines mandate that work facilities still in operation undertake special enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures. Here are the rules and how to comply. There’s also a Model Policy you can adapt for use at your own facility. What’s at Stake SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, spreads by human-to-human contact and can live on a surface or object for up to seven days. The virus can be killed but it takes the right products and procedures. That’s why public health agencies are requiring employers to implement special cleaning and disinfection procedures as part of their workplace… . . . read more

TOOL

Model Law Office Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection Policy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other public health organizations mandate that employers take additional cleaning and hygiene measures during the pandemic. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt for your own use based on your specific circumstances and applicable local and specialty rules.

TOOL

Worker’s acknowledgement of decision to decline COVID-19 vaccination

It is important for you to ensure that law office workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage workers to be vaccinated voluntarily If you select Option 2, require workers to sign a form acknowledging that they were offered the vaccine and voluntarily declined to accept it and list the reasons for doing so. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

EEOC issues COVID-19 vaccine guidance

By Mike O’Brien bio On Dec. 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidance to include a section devoted to vaccinations. The EEOC’s guidance answers these and other COVID-19 vaccine questions: “Is asking or requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination a disability-related inquiry?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a disability?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief?” “What happens if an employer cannot… . . . read more

HR Q&A

Does your law office owe employees paid sick leave when they self-quarantine?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: After I spent a weekend bar hopping, I felt remorseful, and self-quarantined so I wouldn’t bring COVID into my workplace and make others ill. I also took a COVID-19 test and luckily tested negative. Since my law office employer had moved everyone back on-site, I couldn’t work remotely and labeled my time off as sick leave. I just got my paycheck and apparently my employer has denied my sick leave. What’s my recourse? Answer: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allows most private sector employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave in five instances. A health care provider advises the employee to self-quarantine; the employee is seeking a diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms; the employee or someone the employee is caring for is… . . . read more

CYBERSECURITY

Disinformation endangers your company, not just democracy

By Doug Striker bio Did you hear about the rumor that COVID-19 was spread by mobile devices using the 5G network? It sounds so insane and far-fetched that no one would believe it, right? I mean, how in the world would a virus travel through a cell phone frequency band, into a cell phone or tablet, and then out of the device into a person’s body? But thanks to social media, fake news sites set up by bad actors, and Average Joes (like you and me) who click that “share” button all too readily, the rumor spread like wildfire, gaining so much traction that people were literally lighting cell phone towers on fire around the world. Why would someone spread such nonsense? And when I say “someone,” I not only… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Renting out extra space? Set up protective walls to avoid risk

With more law firm employees working from home during the pandemic, a firm may find itself living in too much space—and paying too much rent. One solution is to bring in a tenant. Usually the renter is a solo practitioner or a small firm, and the arrangement is good for everybody, because the firm collects the rent and the renter gets the amenities as well as the appearance of an association with the larger group. From a risk perspective, however, it’s a cause for concern. The firm has to look past the financial benefits to the danger spots. It has to think like a landlord and get signed documents and insurance policies. And more, it has to set up protections against the disasters specific to a law firm/law firm lease… . . . read more


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