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Return to Work Checklist

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COVID-19 has disrupted and changed so much about how we do business.  As  governments are beginning to provide return-to-work plans and businesses prepare to reopen, or resume regular operations, there are many considerations and best practices to help business do so in a responsible manner that maintains safety, manages resources and builds morale.

Use this “Return to Work” checklist to guide you in your decision making. 


  • Who is the decision maker?

  • When can employees return to work and what are the rules and recommended guidelines:

  • How should we reopen?

    • Return all employees at once or plan a staggered schedule?
    • Establish a rotation schedule?
    • Maintain remote working?
    • Rethink the physical work space set up?
  • Communicate frequently and as transparently as possible with employees:

    • Provide expected timelines for recalling/rehiring employees.
    • Providing returning employees with recall or offer letters. Example
    • Train managers on dealing with employees that may face increased personal challenges during this time, such as bereavement and loss, childcare and school-cancelations challenges, financial stress, and other dependent care and support needs.
  • Offer flexibility wherever possible and adjust workloads to be reasonable.

Postings and Policies

  • Post the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) poster in a visible place.

    • Where employees will remain working from home, send by email or post to Company Intranet or website.
  • Review and revise hiring practices and polices

    • Have your staffing needs changed?
    • Do you need to change benefits or pay to become more competitive?
    • Consider remote interviewing techniques as much as possible.
    • Update onboarding practices and check-in with new hires regularly
    • If you are recalling only some workers that were laid-off/furloughed, ensure your practices for determining who to recall do not discriminate any groups of employees.
  • Review and revise work from home and childcare policies. Example

  • Update work travel policies considering any new state orders and any document new practices being implemented in the workplace to keep employee/customers safe. Example

  • Review rehire/reinstate provisions for your benefit policies (eligibility/waiting periods).

Health and Safety

  • Explain company policies and procedures related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, and work meetings and travel.

  • Educate employees on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at home and at work (follow CDC Control and Prevention Recommendations).

  • For employees returning to a worksite, make sure to document expectations. Employee’s should understand what’s expected for them in the workplace in writing. Example

    • Will they be required to wear a face mask or face covering?
    • Will protective items and hand sanitizer be provided?
    • Are workplace hours different?
    • Will you be taking employee’s temperatures each day when they arrive?
    • Is teleworking or staggering shift work allowed/encouraged?
    • Physical work space changes (i.e., seating)?
    • Foot traffic flow?
  • Ensure that all employees who are currently ill, become sick or have contact with an ill family member stay home (follow CDC recommendations for length of time).

  • Promote CDC Guidelines on safe social distancing in the workplace by encouraging employees to:

    • Remain at least 6 feet away from each other.
    • Email, message, call, or video call rather than meeting face to face.
    • Clean computer equipment, desktops, phone and workstations often.
  • Provide hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and face masks or face coverings (where appropriate/necessary) and no-touch disposable receptacles.

  • Place CDC posters throughout the business to encourage social distancing and hand hygiene (discouraging handshaking).

Best Practices

  • Be aware of any local public health or other orders related to COVID-19 that may affect your business.

  • Ensure you workplace cleaning company is up to date on current methods of safety removing COVID-19 hazards.

  • Acknowledge that employees may feel unsettled about returning the workplace. Acknowledge concerns and treat announcements with sensitivity.

  • Be prepared to quickly investigate and stop discriminatory speech or acts in the workplace.

  • Remind employees of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or consider an EAP if one not in place.

  • Designate a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact at the workplace.

  • Welcome employees back to work, communicate your appreciation and develop a plan to operate and communicate (i.e., if absenteeism spikes or if another shelter-in-place/stay at home order occurs in the future) - (example) :

    • Implement plan to continue essential business functions.

    • Implement flexible work schedules and leave policies.

    • Cross-train employees on performing essential business functions.

  • Develop emergency communication plans, including a way to answer workers’ concerns.

  • Reflect on changes that resulted due to COVID-19.  What has benefited your business and may be good practices to keep moving forward?

  • Consult with Human Resources, Legal counsel and Financial experts.

Sample documents

(Contact your HR Business Partner for assistance):

To learn more about QTI can help your organization with its HR needs, contact us.

Note: This material is offered for general information only.  It does not provide, nor is it intended to provide tax or legal advice.

 * Taken from ThinkHR and Akerman, LLP


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