Employers are facing numerous challenges regarding laws and policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a constant need to remain fluid and able to meet the requirements in order to keep employees working on site. Recently, an ever-increasing rise of retaliation claims have been filed from employees who allege they were disciplined or discharged for complaining about health or safety concerns relating to COVID19.
Employees are filing complaints regarding issues with personal protective equipment, social distancing, and other health and safety measures during the pandemic. After the complaints were made, many employers were faced with the necessity of changing or reducing hours, cutting pay, or terminating employees due to decline in business. This exacerbates the issue as some employees feel like they are being retaliated against.
How do you protect yourself and navigate these issues? Be transparent with your workforce and take complaints seriously and address with the employee/s to show you are listening and you understand their issues. Follow up with employees and your workforce to let them know next steps and what they can expect.
Always make sure any reduction in force is notated due to business reasons and not tied to any complaints (documentation is key). Having an HR consultant review your documents and proposed staff reductions is a great safeguard to minimize your risk and exposure!