IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Businesses hoping to open up soon have a lot of things to consider and plans to make.
On Tuesday, the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar with Hawley Troxell law firm for businesses. They discussed tips for developing a legally compliant return to work plan. The tips centered around following Governor Brad Little’s orders for reopening.
Many business owners are worried the decisions they make in their company may result in a lawsuit from their employees who may contract COVID-19 at the workplace. Employment lawyer John Ashby says he thinks the laws in Idaho protect businesses very well and that it’s difficult for any employee to bring a legal claim against their company for anything related to COVID-19.
“Meaning if an employee contracts COVID-19 and believes it’s related to their work, they can’t just sue the company, at least it’s very hard to sue the company. There is a potential maybe for workers compensation liability, but you get a lot of protection in there,” Ashby said.
Ashby says it’s important for business owners to comply with the laws that are in effect, and that as long as they do that, there is not much of a legal risk with employees.
He also says it’s super important to make sure your workplace is safe, that way you can pass any OSHA inspection, which is where a bigger risk lies.
Ashby discussed creating a plan for everything including, how employees should return to work, what safety precautions you will put in place, what you plan to do if an employee does test COVID-19 positive.
As businesses begin to open up again, some employees may be wondering if they have to go back to work.
Ashby discussed those employees’s who may not feel comfortable going back to work, he said if they don’t feel comfortable going back to work, unfortunately that most likely wont qualify them for emergency pay sick leave.
“If all they're saying is that they're concerned about contracting COVID-19, that is not one of the reasons for which they get emergency paid sick leave. Unless what they're telling you is that they can't come to work because of a doctor's advice right either because they're sick or because they're in that formal category. If that is the case, then they likely will qualify for two weeks of paid leave,” Ashby said.
For those employees who still refuse to go back to work, Ashby recommends offering unpaid leave until they feel comfortable. However, each business has the ability to do whatever they feel is best for their company.
The Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce will make the full webinar with Ashby available online on Wednesday.