RISK ALERT: Employment Risk Related to Coronavirus
News concerning the coronavirus has dominated the headlines in the past several weeks. Despite the markets’ recent downward trajectory, the overall impact of the virus on professional service firms and the quality of the services they provide is still relatively unknown. That said, from an employment liability perspective, there are some things CPA firms can do to help mitigate the adverse affect on their personnel and employment practices.
Before implementing any employee travel-related restrictions and/or time-off policies, consider government and legal guidance to avoid potentially discriminatory practices. With so many resources out there, however, it can be difficult to discern exactly where to go to for relevant information.
One excellent source is The Center of Disease Control’s recent guidance to employers on dealing with the coronavirus. Another good resource comes from Jackson Lewis, a prominent national law firm specializing in labor and employment law. The firm recently released a comprehensive guide to help firms avoid employment liability risks when managing through the current crisis.
To maintain a healthy and yet equitable work environment, CPA firms should consider the following:
- avoid even the appearance of discriminatory practices (country of origin, race, etc.) in determining risk of infection, reducing transmission among staff, protecting higher risk employees, identifying possible areas of work-related exposure and maintaining business operations
- maintain the confidentiality of all your employees
- provide work from home options, flexible schedules and leaves of absences for ill employees and their ill family members
- consult with an employment law attorney before taking any action for any reason against an employee who is out sick
- establish a communication process to inform employees of your firm’s outbreak response plans and other critical information
Aon maintains an Infectious Disease Response Site designed as an online resource for clients and industry peers to access information and insight on risk exposures and human capital (duty of care) concerns emanating from an infectious disease event or outbreak. Organizations should consider strategies to prepare and safeguard their employees and businesses by reviewing their insurance policies for coverage provisions relating to COVID-19 or other infectious disease event. Learn more.
The AICPA is taking the Coronavirus (COVID-19) very seriously. They are continually monitoring the virus’ impact on our members, staff, exam candidates, students and the profession and have created an online resource center. Learn more.