Workers wearing masks in the office

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Reopening Plan Vital for Brokers to Avoid Liability

February 8, 2021

Many brokerages are considering reopening workplaces to workers, clients, and the public as the COVID-19 vaccine brings hope against the pandemic. But with more than 1,500 workplace safety lawsuits related to coronavirus exposure since the start of the pandemic, a COVID-19 reentry plan is necessary to keep your workplace safe and reduce your brokerage’s risk of liability.

A new Window to the Law video, posted at nar.realtor, offers tips on creating an office reentry and vaccination plan.

Some states have enacted laws that grant businesses immunity from certain COVID-19-related workplace claims, such as in Kansas and North Carolina. But in those states, and even in states without an immunity law, a business should be sure to have a reentry plan that complies with federal, state, and local guidance and orders to help demonstrate that a business acted reasonably in reopening the office.

In the video, NAR highlights that a reentry plan should include the following to minimize the spread of the virus in the workplace:

  • Cleaning protocols in compliance with CDC guidance;
  • Standards for social distancing by restricting the number of people allowed in the office, modifying workspaces, and limiting access to common areas;
  • A requirement that all individuals entering the office wear a mask and submit to temperature checks;
  • Workplace policies that incorporate COVID-19 safety protocols, including how to address reports of COVID-19 symptoms, diagnoses, and exposure in the workplace;
  • Confirmation that COVID-19 policies and reentry plan comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations and CDC guidance.
Workplaces also are considering how to address vaccination policies for COVID-19 among their workers. Employers can require individuals entering the premises to show proof of vaccination. But brokerages should work with their legal counsel and human resources team to develop and implement a vaccination policy for their business.
 

“Also, to avoid worker classification issues, be sure that a mandatory policy is consistently applied based on exposure risk rather than employment relationship,” Katie Garrity, associate counsel at NAR, says in the latest Window to the Law video. “You may want to consider other factors, such as employee hesitation regarding the vaccine, effect on employee morale, and how your business is prepared to respond when an employee refuses to receive the vaccination in determining whether the vaccination will be mandatory or strongly encouraged. Whether mandatory or voluntary, remember to clearly communicate the policy terms to the necessary individuals.”

Watch the Window to Law video.

NAR’s Workplace Re-Entry Checklist Against COVID-19

Guidance for Workplace Vaccination Policies