2020 is the year that will forever be synonymous with COVID-19. The entire world had to adapt to the realities of a global pandemic. Many of these realities and changing laws and regulations have been a human resources nightmare; HR professionals have been the key to keeping employers’ compliant and employees safe the past year. In 2021, your company’s Human Resource department is still that key to ensuring your employees’ well-being and keeping the company as compliant, adjusting to the new normal of (hopefully) coming out of a global pandemic.
Two vaccines are now available, but the introduction of these vaccines doesn’t quite mean we’re done with COVID-19 challenges in 2021. Many companies are choosing to keep as many employees working remotely as possible until at least the next summer. If your company is taking that route, your HR team is responsible for ensuring that company culture is not lost by distance and that employee production remains where it needs to be. Additionally, as of December 31, 2020 employers are no longer legally required to provide the extended paid sick leave offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response. If your company is encouraging employees to return to the office in 2021, then your HR department needs to be certain the work environment is safe and COVID-appropriate. Covid-appropriate may also be redefined once the Biden-Harris administration takes office; The Biden-Harris administration is expected to ramp up OSHA’s workplace safety enforcement on a federal level. Human Resources professionals are the individuals who will need to be aware of each and every change. (Don’t forget to say thank you to them!)
Beyond safety, many employers are worrying about the potential of COVID-related legal exposure. Many industries have been hit hard by COVID-19, and a lot of companies are downsizing or restructuring their workforces. Employers are preparing to see lawsuits alleging discrimination, wage and hour, and other employment law violations due to downsizing and restructuring caused by the pandemic and subsequent economic consequences.
Yes, 2020 has ended, but the world is still experiencing a global pandemic. You and your company will need to continue adapting to the ever-changing new normal, and it is your HR team that is guiding those adaptations.
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