Employers Respond to Changing Work-From-Home Policies

 

May 5, 2020

As organizations navigate the evolving effects of COVID-19 and employees begin to re-enter the workforce, employers are responding to critical issues that will impact the work environment.

A recent survey by Health Action Council revealed that employers are willing to accommodate work-at-home policies, plan on adjusting or creating flex schedules, and give department managers discretion when determining if working at home is applicable, among other findings.

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“Our survey reveals that most companies are having to be adaptable when determining best next steps for their employees,” said Patty Starr, President and CEO of Health Action Council.

“This survey aims to help employers understand the importance of having policies in place and being flexible as businesses begin to re-emerge and accommodate both employees who are able to work-at-home and those who must be in the office. The bottom line is to make employees feel safe in either scenario.”

The survey revealed that 75% of those surveyed already have a work-from-home policy in place and that 52.27% of employers plan on adjusting any policies around flex schedule and/or work from home as a result of COVID-19.

According to one respondent, "Work from home was rare and limited to 50%. But now it will be 100% and is expanded to hourly employees."

Another added, "Our company culture did not support working from home. Traditionally, it was limited and selective, but COVID-19 has pushed the company in a new direction with entire teams working from home. The company is now developing a tool to assist managers in managing their team remotely."

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"We are only allowing a few employees on a scheduled rotation to work from the office," said one Ohio respondent. "We're considering May 18 as a return to office target depending on how our state continues to react and inform us."

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Findings indicated that 81.82% of companies will allow for the department managers to use their discretion to approve/deny working-from-home and that 31.82% percent of the policies were global.

One respondent said, "We flex positions to work remotely as much as possible." While another said, "All employees who come to the worksite must complete a COVID-19 survey and answer all the questions properly before being allowed to come to the worksite."

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There were 56.82% of respondents who indicated that there are specific roles that must work on-site and that 38.64% will allow employees to work at home five days per week, if applicable, yet 56.82% of employers are not considering a permanent modification to any leave addressing self-quarantine, waiver of premiums, etc.

"Our prior policy was pretty much a no work-from-home but allowed some exceptions," wrote one respondent. "Now we're complying with anyone who can, but still expect things to eventually return to normal after 12 to 18 months."

Another wrote, "Certain job positions are essential to working in the office, so we've made sure to distance those employees so that they feel safe as we continue to monitor the situation."

As far as a home office set up, one respondent added, "Employees are responsible for the cost. Furniture isn’t provided for the employee and if they were provided with furniture under a prior arrangement, replacement furniture will not be afforded."

Related to healthcare, one mentioned, "We adapted the health modification under the CARES Act."

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According to one respondent, "Employees can get 14 days paid if quarantined by medical authorities, government authorities, or at the company's instruction to stay home."  Another said, "We may consider sick pay for hourly after COVID-19."

Starr adds, “An open forum among members will be helpful as policies are established and readjusted as we all navigate through unchartered territory. Our overarching goal is to share experiences and best practices among members to help make employees feel safe and secure.”

Health Action Council members are encouraged to reach out to their Member Experience Representative if they’d like to discuss this issue further with other members. Additionally, download our new ebook Reboarding: Learning From the Past to Plan for the Future.

About Health Action Council
Health Action Council is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization representing mid- and large-size employers that enhances human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. It provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve the quality and moderate the cost of healthcare purchased by its members for their employees, dependents, and retirees.

Health Action Council also collaborates with key stakeholders – health plans, physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry – to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the community. For more information, please visit www.healthactioncouncil.org.

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