Given the ongoing risks and uncertainties brought on by 2020, many businesses are implementing new technology and workforce management practices to combat the COVID-19 virus directly. Contact tracing offers a powerful solution for containing the spread of COVID-19 in your workforce by identifying infected employees and notifying all those who have come into close contact with them.
This process can pose some serious compliance risks, however—especially if you’re monitoring and overseeing a distributed workforce. Without focused compliance, you could end up with costly fines from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Let’s break down the benefits and risks of contact tracing and how to make such procedures work for your business today!
Pros and Cons of Contact Tracing
According to the CDC, contact tracing typically includes interviewing infected employees and testing those who have worked within 6 feet of them for at least 15 minutes in the 48 hours before symptom onset. It requires you to notify employees who may have been exposed, monitor symptoms, refer individuals for testing, and oversee employees’ return to worksites.
The combination of contact tracing with health screening technology offers an effective approach to combatting COVID-19, but it also increases compliance obstacles around privacy laws and workforce management practices. Moreover, it can damage employee morale if you monitor excessively or inconvenience employees with constant requests for testing and interviews. A few key examples include:
- Being too free with employee information during the tracing process: It is okay if employees guess the individual who may have contracted COVID-19, but you need to make sure that your communications does not include any identifying information or it could become a HIPA violation.
- Not paying employees for time spent waiting for and during health checks/tracing interviews: Standard pay rates must be maintained regardless of whether an employee is participating in the screening process or their standard daily tasks, otherwise you risk issues with FLSA issues (see California’s EXECUTIVE ORDER N-62-20)
With that said, contact tracing can benefit your operation immensely by lowering the number of positive cases and halting the spread COVID-19 throughout your work sites. It can help put employees at ease about your COVID-19 management and maximize productivity by addressing the virus, predicting employee absences, and managing ongoing disruptions head on.
Tips for Contact Tracing Compliance
Here are some tips for optimizing your contact tracing efforts for maximum impact and compliance:
- Require all employees to participate. In order to avoid any discriminatory practices, normalize contact tracing operating procedures and make sure your employees are all involved and invested in your health screening and data collecting processes.
- Determine ideal methods for conducting symptom checks. Each business needs to determine the best course of action for their employees: whether that be to have employees get temperature checks at the start of each work day, take their own temperatures at home before commuting to work, or fill out a questionnaire. Remember: all questions about an employee’s health must be directly related to protecting employees and the public from COVID-19.
- Communicate with employees about positive cases as quickly and transparently as possible. This helps to avoid creating hysteria and additional disruptions to operational order and productivity. It also helps nurture a company-wide culture normalizing this process, the technology involved, and its benefits.
EPAY Systems – Experts in Workforce Management and Compliance
At EPAY Systems, we understand the complex nature of needing solutions which can track employees and lower exposure to workforce management hazards without contributing to compliance issues or unhappy employees. As COVID-19 procedures continue to evolve, so do the operating standards and their related HR issues.
Workplace monitoring can be a lot to handle on your own. Luckily, EPAY Systems has a Human Capital Management solution that is built with the hourly, distributed workforce in mind. With tools like our Dynamic Punch Questions, which enable you to ask employees different questions on during punch in/punch out, you can actively monitor COVID risks in your workforce.
Check out our COVID-19 Resources Center for more information, or review some of our other pandemic blogs for additional insight. Want to learn more about our workforce management technology and how it can aid your HR processes? Watch our 2-minute Tour and request a demo today.