3. Health and Safety Measures
Requirements mandated by law or any official guidance.
In general, an employer has a statutory duty to give appropriate consideration to ensure that its employees are physically safe at their place of work. There have been no statutory directives enacted to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, imposing specific obligations on employers. The declaration of state of emergency authorised the governors in the areas affected to request (not require) that residents stay home except for essential tasks; businesses can be requested that they “thoroughly implement infection control measures”; but this is just a request and not an order and therefore cannot be required.
Measures typically implemented by employers and the associated legal risks, limitations, obligations and issues to consider.
Measures to satisfy the COVID-19 obligations might include collecting information on employee’s health and physical condition, asking employees to work from home or a safe location, installing temperature meters or other health risk detection methods for employees and visitors (subject to compliance with possible data protection requirements), and implementing staggered commuting times; which measures to take would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Although the state of emergency has been lifted, employers are still expected to reduce the number of the employees attending their workplaces and avoid the Three C’s (i.e. closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places with many people nearby and close-contact settings such as close-range conversations). Examples of the advisable measures to be taken by employers when gatherings are to be held include (i) limiting the number of the people and providing proper instructions for entering/leaving, (ii) preventing crowded places with many people nearby, (iii) making attendees wash their hands and wear masks and (iv) ventilating a room.