As businesses plan to resume or expand operations in a post-quarantine COVID-19 world, they face a complex, and sometimes conflicting, patchwork of public health, employment, and privacy considerations requiring them simultaneously to:
– Develop, implement, and continue to evaluate infection control programs—including PPE use, cleaning and disinfection protocols, social distancing and hand hygiene programs, and return to work policies—to reduce illness and transmission risk and keep up with evolving community health and industry standards.
– Evaluate, implement, and document enhanced worker screening and contact tracing programs to identify, respond to, and understand the root cause of worker illnesses.
– Implement screening and other programs with an eye to privacy, balancing the need to collect information with applicable and potentially conflicting privacy obligations arising under state constitutional and common law; statutes including the California Consumer Privacy Act, California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, and various tracking and data breach statutes; and evolving general privacy principles of transparency, data minimization, confidentiality, and data security.
– Remain compliant with wage and hour obligations in a “new normal” of altered work schedules and arrangements and new activities ancillary to workers’ regular shifts that may include PPE use, additional personal hygiene steps, or employee screening requirements.
– Navigate the framework of federal and state employment law protecting employee rights, including those protecting potentially higher risk workers based on age or disability, worker health and safety obligations, and paid and unpaid leave rights, and be prepared to respond to employee concerns (and potential reluctance to work) while remaining sensitive to whistle-blower, anti-retaliation, worker speech.