Q: “Assuming that an employer wishes to work with their employees as much as practical to accommodate their needs (i.e., childcare, health concerns, etc.) while understanding that all needs may not be able to be accommodated, what is the best way to go about making inquiries to assess those needs?”
May 15, 2020
Answered by Becky Canary-King
While employers should avoid making inquiries about employees’ medical or familial status, employers can encourage employees to voluntarily disclose if they are at higher risk or if they have other needs related to coronavirus. Employers should not assume that certain employees do not want to return to work or would prefer remotely based on their protected characteristic (such as age, pregnancy, familial status, or medical condition). Some options for ensuring your employees are returning to the worksite according to their comfort-level include:
- A survey asking employees’ their preference of whether they would like to return to the workplace or continue to work remotely, without requiring disclosure of their reasons.
- A volunteer sign-up list to begin working from the worksite
- A communication to employees that if they are at higher risk of serious illness or have other needs related to coronavirus, they may be eligible for leave or accommodations, and may reach out to Human Resources.