Workplace Resources

State Public Health Color-Coded Guidelines

Economic recovery is not like flipping a switch, it›s more like moving a dial. The color-coded health guidance system will guide Utahns as we make adjustments to open businesses, but still keep our most at risk populations safe. Public health and economic opportunity are intrinsically linked. Utahns and businesses must strictly follow the health guidance of each color or risk backtracking and causing greater economic harm. View the business guidelines below by choosing which risk phase your business is in.

Returning to the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published COVID-19 standards for employers to follow as workforce returns to work.

The highest priority of any business is to protect the health, safety, and life of employees and clients. Every decision emanates from that single objective, including guidelines employees have within their places of business, the flexibility and encouragement they are given to attend to their own health needs — as well as those of their families — and a supportive workplace environment that has considered and prepared for disruptions in services, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and supply chains.  

While many, if not most, businesses may never experience an incident of coronavirus on their premises, almost all will feel the effects of the illness through disruptions in the stock market, a break in the supply chain, or legitimate concerns among employees. Businesses should also be aware of potential shortages for pharmaceutical supplies, health care supplies, and other resources that may be required for needs unrelated to coronavirus or may leave a company unprepared for subsequent emergencies. These are best addressed by advance planning, considering the resources and best practices that encourage healthy engagement and behaviors within the business environment, at the employee’s home, and support throughout the community.

Best practices encouraged by business and health care experts separate into two categories, those who are not feeling well or suspect they have the coronavirus, and those who are feeling well and need to take precautions.

Those who believe they may have been exposed to coronavirus or who are not feeling well should:

  • Be actively encouraged to remain at home except to receive health care.
  • Stay separate and apart from individuals and animals within the home.
  • Call the doctor before visiting to describe symptoms and receive instructions.
  • Wear a facemask in public and among household companions.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean hands and wash often with soap and water for 20 seconds or an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing household items.
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day.
  • Have clothing and bedding washed as frequently as possible.
  • Monitor symptoms and inform healthcare professionals, particularly if they worsen.
  • Confirm illness and contagion have passed before returning to work or public engagement.
  • CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

Those who are feeling well and have no reason to believe they have been exposed to coronavirus should proceed as they would during any cold and flu season:

  • Perform hand hygiene frequently.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Try to remain in open spaces with good airflow.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, and clothing items with workmates.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, desk- and tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, and tablets, every day.
  • Sanitize workspaces and public transportation areas like handles and stabilizing bars in subway cars, as well as arm rests and tray tables in buses, trains, and airplanes.
  • Wash clothing regularly.
  • Maintain a comfortable distance in conversations and in tight working environments, such as where two or more are gathered around a computer.
  • Consider replacing a handshake with a fist bump or friendly salute.

For additional information, please see Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Around the office:

  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
  • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
  • Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
  • Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands web page for more information.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

For more general workplace health and safety information, view the U.S. Chamber’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Workplace Tips for Employees. You can also download an infographic about social distancing.

Preparing Your Business

As Utah does everything possible to limit the spread of COVID-19, the best remedy against serious outbreak is prevention. Businesses, no matter their size, can significantly influence their community’s readiness, awareness, resources, and engagement against the spread of COVID-19. This begins with organizational preparedness, including risk management teams and contingency plans.

The CDC encourages all employers to implement strategies to protect their workforce. During a coronavirus outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and high-touch surfaces should be cleaned regularly.

PPE Resources

The state maintains a spreadsheet that lists Utah vendors for personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, sanitizer and disinfectant. If you’re a Utah organization in need of PPE for your workforce or on-site visitors, we encourage you to reach out to other Utah companies that can provide those products. View the spreadsheet here.

If you’re a Utah company that has made, or can make, PPE, please submit your information here.

If you have PPE to donate to help support Utah small businesses, please submit your information here.

If you’d like to make a cash donation to support PPE for Utah small businesses, click here.

How to Screen And Test Employees

Download a PDF of this resource.

When criteria have been met, the state of Utah wants businesses to safely reopen without becoming locations where COVID-19 spreads. Employees who are physically returning to workplaces may face increased exposure to the virus, especially if their job duties require a high degree of physical interaction with the public or other employees. It is important to make these individuals feel confident they are working in an environment that is not jeopardizing their health. Although no amount of testing today, viral or antibody, will guarantee the ongoing safety of all employees and customers, screening and testing employees can help increase workplace safety and employee confidence.

Phased Business Guidelines FAQs

Download a PDF of this resource.

The Phased Guidelines addendum to the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan, were developed in a coordinated effort to support reactivation of the Utah economy while protecting the public’s health. These guidelines are part of a statewide plan to address the COVID-19 health and economic crisis and provide businesses with specific actions they can take as Utah works to “turn up the dial” to reactivate the economy.

Protecting High-Risk Individuals

In every phase of COVID-19 risk identified in the Utah Leads Together plan, high-risk individuals and the companies that employ them should follow instructions issued by the Utah Department of Health.

While Utah has moved to the moderate risk phase, individuals in high-risk categories, including older adults and those who are immunocompromised, should continue to follow “high risk” protocols, and exercise all possible caution. Individuals who work or live with persons in high-risk categories should also continue following “high risk” guidance.

Download Protecting High-Risk Individuals (PDF)

Outbreak Response Plan

Employers should prepare an Outbreak Response Plan using the following process:

  • Ensure the plan is flexible and involves employees in development and review.
  • Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using the plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
  • Share the plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available.
  • Share best practices with other businesses in the community (especially those within the supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.

Nitin Nohria, dean of the Harvard Business School, said recently in the Harvard Business Review that a plan should be complemented by a company’s “ability to rapidly evaluate ongoing changes in the environment and develop responses based on simple principles.” The companies best capable of that evolution have:

  • Engaged and informed networks rather than hierarchical command and control.
  • Distributed leadership rather than centralized bureaucracy.
  • A less interdependent business structure among operating groups.
  • A dispersed workforce.
  • Cross-trained generalists rather than a few specialists.
  • Simple and flexible rules rather than procedure driven policies.

Resilience in a Box

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, UPS Foundation, World Economic Forum (WEF) and Disaster Resistant Business (DRB) Toolkit Workgroup have developed a “Resilience in a Box” program based on best practices and designed to educate newcomers on business resilience. The program guides companies toward addressing preparedness issues while building in flexibility to handle potential business interruptions.

Corporate Policy Recommendations

The United States Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Centers For Disease Control, recommends companies:

  • Ensure sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and employees are aware of these policies.
  • Speak with vendors that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
  • Do not require a health care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or return to work, as medical providers are extremely busy and likely unable to provide such documentation in a timely way.
  • Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.

For more information, view the U.S. Chamber’s Guidance for Employers to Plan and Respond to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Remote Work

Should an Emergency Remote Work Plan become necessary due to infection among employees, family members, or the community at large, Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder of Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit recommends the following:

  1. Acknowledge the possibility that all or part of your workforce may need to work remotely.
  2. Map out jobs and tasks that could be affected.
  3. Audit available IT hardware and software, and close any gaps in access and adoption.  
  4. Set up a communications protocol in advance.
  5. Identify ways to measure performance that could inform broader change.

Detailed information concerning these recommendations are included in “What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?” Harvard Business Review, February 28, 2020.

Employees With Affected Family Members

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Act requires certain small employers (those with less than 500 employees) to provide limited paidleave benefits to employees who are affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Small employers are given new tax credits and federal payroll-tax relief to pay for the new mandatory benefits. Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:

  • Up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined due to COVID-19
  • Up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to COVID-19 quarantine, or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • For more information regarding covered employers, eligible employees, and qualifying reasons for leave, visit this link.

Additional Resources & Organization Responses