Virtually every part of workforce management has had to adapt in order to uphold operational efficiency and integrity in the face of COVID-19. It has become clear, as we near the perceivable end of the pandemic, that some long-term effects—particularly those related to the newfound responsibilities faced by HR—are going to be felt by your workforce for years to come.
In addition to the numerous health protections being enforced by federal and state-level agencies, labor codes around COVID-19 workplace exposure have necessitated new record-keeping and retention rules for tracking certain data compliantly. The rules for what types of documentation are needed and how long you are able to create, track and retain COVID-related information are ones no employer can afford to miss.
As states like California create stringent workplace reporting requirements related to COVID-19, now is the time to reflect on your record-keeping efforts and the potential compliance hurtles ahead. Here is a rundown of the most critical pandemic records to keep track of and how long to anticipate retaining them.
COVID-19 Records Checklist
It is implied that you are to uphold the standard record-keeping requirements that existed before the pandemic in all appropriate circumstances. However, depending on the type of documentation, mandates related to COVID will likely require you to maintain data for longer periods of time than other record-keeping requirements.
As it relates to COVID-19 specifically, here are the specific categories you should be documenting to protect your business:
- Biometric Data Requirements: Consider the types of information that you’ve been recording and safeguarding, including biometric screening data and private health information linked to employee records, in order to make sure you are managing them correctly. For temperature checks specifically, you are not technically required to keep records of temperature readings. If you do decide to keep track of them, be sure you are fulfilling the privacy and record retention requirements of both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Wage & Hour Requirements: If you’ve been conducting any type of temperature or COVID-related screening, you may be required to compensate employees for the time spent fulfilling those requirements (including subsequent travel and wait times). Whether or not you pay employees for the extra time will be dependent upon your industry and factual criteria (ex. exempt or non-exempt employees). Check out the DOL’s “Essential Protections During the COVID-19 Pandemic” to learn how best to document this for your operation.
- FFCRA Requirements: Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), records relating to paid sick leave or extended leave (including returning to work after sick leave, furlough, etc.) must be retained for at least four years. Federal regulations now include specific requirements for documenting oral requests by employees for paid sick leave or expanded leave related to COVID-19, as well as for denials of those requests by employers. For a full breakdown of requirements, visit the FFCRA Questions and Answers
- OSHA Requirements. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you are required to record and keep positive COVID-19 cases that occur within your operation. OSHA has issued temporary enforcement rules under their standard Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses In short, you must create records when a case is: a confirmed case of COVID-19 (as opposed to suspected infection or exposure); identified accurately as ‘work-related’; and meets one of the general OSHA recording criteria (requires medical treatment or missed workdays). For more details on reporting tips, visit OSHA’s Interim Enforcement Response Plan.
- State Requirements: In spite of continued federal updates, states are offering their own record-keeping requirements for COVID-19, as well. A new California labor law is leading the charge by requiring employers to maintain “records of the written [pandemic-related] notifications…for a period of at least three years.” This creates a clear retention timeline and hold employers accountable for communicating compliantly and upholding state-level laws on pandemic management. As always, stay up-to-date on your state’s independent legislation and safeguard all relevant records.
While other types of data and retention protocols have remained the same under current standards, be absolutely sure you are keeping up with all your COVID-19 records to ensure a strong defense against possible litigation.
Workforce Management Solutions to Aid COVID-19 Compliance
Taking the time to define and create plans for your pandemic-related records is necessary investment if you want to protect your business, hourly workforce, and reputation as an employer. Luckily, EPAY has an award-winning Human Capital Management (HCM) system to help make it easier.
Our flexible platform not only allows you access to all your operational data from one easy interface, it actively assists with various forms of compliance and data security. Whether you are performing a self-audit on your wage & hour data, need help with FFCRA documentation, or want a quick way to locate and pull sensitive COVID-related records—our solution has your back. We even offer complimentary access to our COVID Resource Center!
Our HR Consulting Services are available to answer your compliance questions as the pandemic continues to evolve. Our team of experts can help you formulate retention schedules for your COVID-19 data, or identify COVID-19 pitfalls that may become detrimental to your business. Want to witness the solution servicing more than 150,000 work sites for yourself? Take a two minute tour.