Pay Attention to Local Orders
While the Safer-at-Home order is no longer in effect, several localities, including Dane County, Milwaukee County, Brown County, La Crosse County, Rock County, Kenosha County, the City of Milwaukee, the City of Appleton, the City of Racine and at least 18 other cities have passed their own health orders, which include significant business operating restrictions. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision did not address and does not impact those local orders, which for now means that other counties and municipalities can be expected to follow suit. Employers always need to ensure that a return-to-work plan complies with any existing, applicable local health orders and, if any new statewide orders are issued, those orders as well.
Consider all Resources
Once the ability to lawfully operate under any applicable orders is confirmed, there remains a host of employment law and public health issues that employers will need to address as they develop and implement return-to-work plans. Moreover, different industry sectors may have drastically different requirements and guidelines to follow in connection with their physical return to work. There is simply no “one-size-fits-all” approach to returning to work and that makes the process all the more challenging for employers.
Legal requirements and recommended health and safety practice guidance is changing almost daily, so it is very important for employers to keep up with the latest developments. As an example, Wisconsin employers electing to reopen should review the Wisconsin Economic Development Commission’s Reopening Guidelines, which include industry-specific advice for protecting employees and the public.
Recalling Furloughed Employees
Some employers may determine that they cannot return all employees to the workforce. Some employers may need to recall employees on a slower timeline depending on demand, social distancing imperatives, and the timeline for production. Others may want to recall everyone, but may need to revisit the terms of employment. When evaluating these issues, employers should consider their obligations under their agreements and policies, including any collective bargaining agreements. Employers should also consider potential adverse impact and the wide range of anti-discrimination laws when selecting who to return from furlough.
We will continue to address these and other critical business related pandemic issues impacting our members. LADCO stands ready to serve our member businesses and community partners.