Today, 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties will begin the process of reopening their economies. As organizations start to reopen, doing so safely in a manner that protects employees and the public is of the utmost importance to everyone. Employers beginning to reopen in the coming weeks should ensure that they are following the legal requirements found in the Governor’s Proclamations and the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and Iowa Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) guidance when doing so. The IDPH guidance can be found here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/IDPH%20Reopening%20Guidance%204_27_20.pdf.
In addition to the above, employers should consider how they will address employees who may start frequenting those establishments that are opening, including, but not limited to, fitness centers, malls, libraries, certain retail establishments, and spiritual and religious gatherings. Employers concerned about these activities should develop policies that treat similarly situated employees equally. In particular, in the case of spiritual and religious gatherings employers should ensure that they do not treat employees engaging in those activities differently than other situations where employees may attend a mass gathering.
Open communication with your workforce about what you are doing to ensure compliance with the Governor’s proclamations and CDC and IDPH guidelines should provide reassurance to your workforce during a time when many employees are likely to be anxious. Remind your employees that they are encouraged to share their workplace safety concerns (including about reopening safely or employees attending social or religious events), but they must do so factually and within the proper reporting chain of command. If additional issues arise as your workplace begins to reopen, you should contact legal counsel for guidance.
- Amy Reasner and Holly Corkery