Pandemic creating difficult situations for employers

  • A screenshot from Thursday's Daily Herald Business Ledger webinar, which focused on some of the human resources issues employers face related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A screenshot from Thursday's Daily Herald Business Ledger webinar, which focused on some of the human resources issues employers face related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 
 
Posted11/20/2020 8:32 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic has created some tricky situations for employers to navigate, perhaps none more difficult than the politics.

That was just one issue addressed in Thursday's latest Daily Herald Business Ledger webinar, "Pandemic Conversations for Employers," sponsored by HR Source.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Unfortunately, there has been a political aspect to the pandemic that has led to people having very different views about how serious it is, or not serious it is, and that might rise up in the workplace," said HR Source chief legal counsel Kelly Hayden.

Hayden cited a case of a CEO who doesn't believe COVID-19 is serious. That chief executive has not provided any PPE and doesn't believe employees need to stay home if they test positive or come into contact with someone who has.

"And so that has cause a lot of worry by employees," Hayden said, "And of course there have been some cases.

"On the other hand you might have some people who are so worried that they can't focus on their work, they don't want to come to work, they don't want to leave their homes. And so you're going to have those two competing types of views to sort out in your workplace."

Employers also might be having a tough time keeping up with laws that "have been enacted at warp speed" to address the crisis, Hayden said. It has been difficult for employers to adjust to those laws so quickly.

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The social unrest and calls for diversity and inclusivity this year also need to be considered by employers.

"Employers have quite a bit on their plates in this arena," Hayden said, "and I don't think that it is enough anymore to simply issue a statement that we support diversity or that's part of our mission or our goals. I think employees are looking for you to do more than that.

"So that's another project to add to your plate as an employer."

HR Source President and CEO Mary Lynn Fayoumi said employers need to document all they are doing in the workplace to be safe in case there's any dispute, including photographing items such as signs, plexiglass and touchless hand sanitizers.

Other issues include how to run payroll from home or how to classify employees who are working from home or working different hours, exempt or nonexempt, said HR Source Director of Compensation Services Kathryn O'Connor.

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