Last Updated April 29, 2021

Returning to the Worksite

Resources and information to help you keep your employees safe while working during COVID-19.

Cigna is here to support you.

In addition to our Reopening Worksites FAQ Cigna has adopted recommendations* from the Business Roundtable to provide information for safely returning employees to the worksite. The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies working to promote a thriving U.S. economy.

The Business Roundtable has provided recommendations for categories of guidelines for the safety of employees in phases. Cigna is using this framework as way to help employers understand guidelines to prepare work places for reopening.

The White House Guidelines set criteria for when it is appropriate to reopen based on declining symptoms, number of cases, and hospital utilization. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) research center at University of Washington Medicine provides health data in real-time of key COVID-19 metrics. View COVID-19 IHME projections

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Cigna Healthy Ways to WorkSM

Our solutions help employers address their unique challenges from COVID-19 to safely move forward.

These guides provide recommendations for 3 broad categories: Workplace Movement and Activity, Building Trust and Safety, and Monitoring. You’ll find resources and information within these categories to reference as you build your plans for bringing employees back to the worksite. You can also listen to the Guidelines for Returning to Work podcast with Dr. Charlie Smith or read the transcript [PDF].

  1. Workplace Movement and Activity
  2. Building Trust and Safety
  3. Monitoring

1. Workplace Movement and Activity

Following state, CDC and OSHA Guidelines for workplace activity, gathering sizes, and distancing can inform your worksite plans. The CDC has a decision tree to help you decide the right time to reopen or bring employees back to the worksite. Guidelines regarding these measures evolve rapidly at the State and municipal level. To find out the latest information regarding regulations in your area, Multistate has created a comprehensive COVID-19 Policy Tracker.

As states begin to open, guidance on how best to provide safe working environments for your employees is essential.

Key considerations

  • Work arrangements and space configuration
  • Appropriate occupation density
  • Introduction of safeguards in high-traffic areas
  • Distancing measures
  • Gathering sizes in different workspaces and environments

Key recommendations

  • Flexible worksites and workhours
  • Daily employee health checks
  • Reducing shared usage of desks, phones, offices, or other work tools
  • Maintaining regular housekeeping practices
  • Frequent handwashing and/or hand sanitizing
  • Personal protection equipment including masks and gloves
  • Policies and procedures for quick identification and isolation of sick individuals
  • Reinforcing that sick individuals should stay home
  • Sick time policies that are flexible and consistent with public health guidance
  • Sick individuals are not required to bring a healthcare provider’s note if they are sick or for returning to work

OSHA Recommendations and Resources

A detailed guide from OSHA is available but some highlights include:

  • A minimum of 6 feet for social distancing
  • Employees classified by risk type to help determine the appropriate precautions (the ability to socially distance is one key item to this classification)

2. Building Trust and Safety

It’s critical that your employees feel comfortable knowing you are taking the proper precautions to keep your workplace safe. The CDC’s guidelines can help you do this.

Find useful tools from the CDC

Measures for Safety and Trust

  • Broad use of face coverings and other protective measures
  • Cleaning procedures
  • Virus monitoring
  • Robust plans for contact tracing
  • Clarifying the types of equipment required in different contexts to support hygienic practices
  • Defining expectations for the type and frequency of cleaning and sanitizing
  • Considering vulnerable/at-risk populations and their caregivers

3. Monitoring

Monitoring is critical to help identify any potential resurgence of the virus and ability to react quickly. As limitations on movement and activity are lifted, CDC guidelines can help determine:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Considerations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, and including the requirement for reasonable accommodation and rules about medical examinations and inquiries.

As worksites begin to reopen, these laws continue to apply; however, they do not prevent an employer from the following guidelines suggested by the CDC about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19. 

We have put together a list of commonly asked questions and answers from the EEOC on what to consider as your employees return to the worksite.

You can also read the full guidance on the EEOC website, but some highlights include:

  • Because the declared pandemic is considered to be a public health emergence, the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of the virus, and because COVID19 presents a direct threat to the workplace, employers are allowed to measure employees’ body temperature before a person enters a work site. However, keep in mind that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever. 
  • An employer can require employees to wear protective gear, such as masks and gloves, and observe infection control practices, such as regular hand washing and social distancing. 
  • If an employee with a disability needs a related, reasonable accommodation under the ADA (e.g., non-latex gloves, modified face masks for interpreters, etc.), employers need to discuss the request and provide the modification or an alternative, if feasible and not an undue hardship on the operation of the business under ADA or Title VII.
  • Some employees may be at higher risk of returning to the workplace due to a pre-existing disability or an immunocompromised individual. If a job can only be performed at the workplace, look to see if there are potential solutions to reduce contact or eliminate possible exposure.
  • Temporary job restructuring of marginal job duties, temporary transfers to a different position, or modifying a work schedule or shift assignment may also permit an individual with a disability to safely perform the essential functions of the job while reducing exposure to others in the workplace or while commuting.
  • Formal accommodation processes should remain in-tact for all requests and individual interactive dialogues should be managed consistently. 

*Cigna is providing this guidance as informational only, check with your local and state regulators for detailed regional guidance and regulations.

This information is not intended as medical, legal or employment advice. Our goal is to help you access up-to-date information, tools, and resources so you can make more informed decisions.