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WORKPLACE SAFETY

COVID-19 delta variant: What managers need to do

By Lynne Curry You’ve heard. Now you need to act. If you had hoped the pandemic had faded away, you need to buckle down once more. The highly contagious Delta variant has caused illness and hospitalizations to rise. While it spreads primarily among the unvaccinated, no one is immune. Further, new variants could prove even more threatening. What does that mean to you as an manager? To you as an employee? What do offices need to do to provide their employees and clients with safe workplaces? Keep infections out of the workplace If you’ve let yourself relax your safety precautions, you need to tighten them again to keep infections out of your workplace. Encourage vaccination. Vaccination remains your and your employees’ best method for staying COVID-free. If you’re an employer,… . . . read more

TERMINATION

To avoid a messy workplace theft investigation, can we just fire our prime suspect?

Question: Several years ago, when one of our employees was stealing from other employees’ purses and desks, we called the police. The process—calling the police, alerting our insurance carrier and interviewing multiple employees to show fairness so we wouldn’t get sued for wrongful termination when we fired the one employee—tore apart our office. Some of our best employees couldn’t believe we didn’t trust them. We tried to explain we had wanted to be fair, and that if we only singled certain employees, we’d stigmatize them forever, but two of our best, long-term employees were so angry they quit within a few months. Once again, we have a problem. Several employees have reported missing small things from their desks. These items appear to have been taken at night. Since everyone has… . . . read more

HIRING

An employee cyberstalks potential hires, looking for dirt

By Lynne Curry  According to rumor, one of my co-workers conducts unauthorized criminal background investigations on prospective employees without their knowledge or permission. This cyber-snoop doesn’t work in human resources but collects information and passes it along to the hiring managers. She’s also been known to interrogate employees after they’re hired about information she’s learned. We’ve also been told that, despite being married, this employee masquerades as a single woman on dating sites and essentially cyberstalks her targets. My co-workers and I don’t know what to do about this employee, as our members of our senior leadership team have indicated they support this woman one hundred percent. What can those of us who find this repugnant do about it? Answer:  According to employment and labor attorney Paul Wilcox, “It’s not surprising… . . . read more

QUIZ

Who has OSHA responsibility for the health & safety of a temp?

What are your OSHA duties to temporary workers (“temps”) whom you hire from a temp agency to work at your firm? Stated differently, are you or the temp agency responsible for the temp’s health and safety? Here’s a set of scenario quizzes that illustrate how the rules work. SCENARIO 1: RESPONSIBILITY FOR HAZCOM TRAINING The Temps R’Us Agency (Agency) assigns an employee to temporary work at XYZ Company (Company). Agency is perfectly aware that knows that Company’s workers handle and use hazardous chemicals. But the temp has no Hazcom training whatsoever. As a result, he suffers an injury as a result of exposure to a toxic chemical while working for Company. QUESTION Who’s responsible for providing the temp the required Hazcom training? Agency Company Both Neither ANSWER Both the Agency… . . . read more

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

HIRING & FIRING

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.


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