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Your household employee and COVID-19 – Getting back to work

June 29, 2020


Your household employee and COVID-19 – Getting back to work

As we all continue to persevere through this current pandemic, returning to a sense of normalcy is expected and increasingly necessary. As stay-at-home policies begin to relax, we have been receiving a number of questions about returning your hire, making a new hire for your home, or returning to work as a household employee.

The most prudent answer we can provide is to communicate. A clear line of communication will help ensure that trust is established, and expectations are clearly understood.

An overabundance of caution is perfectly ok during this time. It will be up to you as the household employer or employee to communicate what protocols, distancing, and housekeeping practices are engaged. We encourage any of the following CDC Critical Infrastructure Guidelines1 that make the most sense for your home:

For employers:

  • Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
  • Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
  • Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
  • Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

For employees:

  • Take your temperature before work.
  • Wear a face mask at all times.
  • Practice social distancing in the workplace as work duties permit.
  • Don’t stay at work if you become sick.
  • Don’t share headsets or objects used near face.

Questions2

Can I ask my household employee to limit their social circle?

Legally, no. However, you can engage in a conversation with your employee about people and group situations outside of work hours. Mutual communication and respect is key, but your employee is not required to agree.

Can I require my household employee to live in our home?

No. But you may ask. Do be considerate of your employee’s own personal living situation. This may not be a realistic option for consideration.

My current household employee would prefer to continue collecting unemployment. What do I do?

Unfortunately, there is nothing to do except wait. The additional $600 a week stipend on unemployment will end on July 2020 (unless extended by Congress). If you are in current need, we have many highly qualified applicants whose positions ended permanently and are ready for hire.

I employ a Nanny or am a Nanny. What happens if the child/children are ill, or become ill?

Nannies are generally expected to care for mildly ill children. Nannies are also primarily expected to continue their duties if they themselves have a mild cold or illness. COVID-19 likely changes this.

It’s currently impossible to know if your nanny’s or the child’s symptoms are benign or dangerous. In response, we recommend that employers be generous with paid leave. Again, communication is key. Your nanny shouldn’t be required to care for your ill child, and don’t encourage your nanny to hide symptoms to avoid lost pay. Additionally, if you as the employer or other household member becomes ill, allow your nanny to stay home with pay until there is an “all clear”.

Before I hire, can I request my potential domestic staff be tested for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies?

As a prerequisite to hire, No. You may however implement safety procedure commitments with your hire before they enter your home (such as the CDC recommendations we provide above). We make no recommendations towards specific medical COVID-19 testing or requirements.

 

Sources:

1 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html
2 https://info.homeworksolutions.com/blog/returning-to-work-in-the-age-of-covid-19

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