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  • Writer's pictureJoshua C. Black

Working in the Summer of COVID: Three Essential Topics to Cover With Returning Employees

By: Joshua C. Black

Halfway through 2020 and it's safe to say that we are living through one of the most tumultuous years in our collective memory.  Employers around the country have grappled with forced closures and lost revenues as our society has weathered the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Many companies have been forced to make one giant leap from having a workforce working IRL (in real life) to a remote workforce of home-based employees commuting via the internet.   

As employees begin to return to the workplace en masse after months of furlough, work from home, or other alternative work arrangements employers must expect - and be ready to address - new workplace challenges.  While the workplace they return to may look the same as it did a few months ago (sans the extra layer of accumulated dust) the world outside is drastically different.  

Benefits of Having an Onboarding Refresher

Employers should consider having an Onboarding Refresher for employees returning to the workplace after a prolonged absence.  Not only is this an opportunity for the company to reinforce its core values and remind employees about day to day expectations, it's an opportunity for the company to address current hot-button issues that directly affect employment for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

Employers should be aware of recent changes to current employment laws as well as the existence of new laws that have been implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Top Three Topics to Cover in Your Onboarding Refresher

1. COVID-19 Safety Procedures.  It is important that employers have reviewed CDC recommendations and state and local guidelines for returning to the workplace.  These recommendations and guidelines should be adopted and policies should be created to implement these safety precautions.  Employers will need to communicate these new safety procedures to employees so as to ensure uniform implementation.

2. Leave of Absence Policies.  It is critical that returning employees be given a refresher about the company's leave of absence and time off policies as it is likely employees may need to miss work at some point this fall due to COVID-19.  In addition to traditional leave entitlements many employees are entitled to extra time off this year under laws such as the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.

3. Anti-Harassment Policy Updates.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 15, 2020, that LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This means it is crucial for employers to update their anti-discrimination policies to include protections for LGBTQ employees and notify current employees that discrimination in hiring or advancement based on LGBTQ status will not be tolerated by the company.

If you have additional questions about these topics or would like to speak to an employment attorney regarding conducting an onboarding refresher please contact the author at the Law Office of Joshua Black, PLC at 623-738-2225 or

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