Legal Obligations of Businesses Relative to the COVID-19 Pandemic
As of March 16, 2020 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has cancelled public and private schools for three (3) weeks, various colleges and universities have moved entirely online and required students to move out, and gatherings of 25 or more individuals have been prohibited. There is a civic responsibility for business to take action to help ensure the safety of its employees. While employee safety is paramount, businesses face several additional business and legal challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the challenges that may be faced by businesses are outlined below, as well as measures that may be taken to address these challenges.
Gather Information and Stay Informed
Businesses should identify and follow authoritative sources of public health guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to officially recommended and mandated actions in their relevant jurisdictions. Helpful resources include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Businesses should utilize the above-named sources to serve as the basis for all organizational decisions relative to both health and legal-risk mitigation. A decision made by a business relative to COVID-19 response that is in alignment with official recommendations from any of the above-named resources would be an important legal safeguard should a business’s infection-control methods be challenged.
Communicate with Employees
Businesses should be able to demonstrate that they have provided employees with accurate information on how to minimize the spread of COVID-19 for both legal and practical reasons. Businesses may accomplish this by educating employees regarding COVID-19 symptoms, precautionary measures, and official sources of information that employees may rely on for current COVID-19 information.
Maintain a Sanitary and Disinfected Work Environment
Businesses should take reasonable precautions […]