[Tennessee] Employers Most Anxious About Worker Welfare As Economy Reopens

11 JUN 2020

Local employers face some tough decisions as they start bringing employees back into the workplace now the phased reopening of Tennessee’s economy has begun. They must consider everything from how and when to bring back remotely working or furloughed employees to what workplace changes to make to keep employees and customers safe, Tennessean reports. 

In March, labour and employment law firm Littler Mendelson conducted a survey of more than 900 North America-based companies to understand employers’ priorities and the actions they are taking as a result. The results reveal that employers are most anxious about their employees’ welfare.   

The' top concerns of respondents reportedly included the safety of employees, customers and workplaces and issues around employee leave and sick pay.   

Nearly all respondents (96 per cent) were concerned about factory, office or store closures if an employee or customer tested positive for COVID-19. The majority of respondents were already taking concrete steps to limit exposure to and spread of the virus before government orders requiring protective gear for workers in “essential businesses” and making workers stay at home were put in place. 

Several respondents said that their companies were restricting travel, cancelling events and meetings and encouraging telework as well as ensuring a safe and hygienic workplace. Nearly two-thirds of respondents had already put deep-cleaning practices in place.    

Deciding whether to pay employees during periods of absences was a concern for 89 per cent of respondents. Employers have a wide range of issues to manage around their workers’ ability to work during the pandemic and are working out how to be fair to employees despite often widely differing circumstances.   

Other concerns for employers revealed by the survey were: maintaining employee privacy while confirming employees are healthy in the workplace and accommodating employees who are in vulnerable groups or are worried about contact with the virus if they attend work. Lower on the list but still a key concern, 83 per cent of employers were wary of unintentional discrimination against a legally protected class of workers affecting workplace decisions or conduct at this difficult time. 

Source: Tennessean