Stay-at-home orders are gradually being lifted across the nation. As an employer, you are presumably looking forward to reopening for business or operating at full capacity. To make up for the last months’ slow returns, you opt to rehire furloughed employees or bring in new, additional employees.

But how do you safely hire employees without increasing the risk of infection in the workplace? What policies should you create and implement to navigate through this process? Here is a list of solutions you can achieve to protect your workplace. Most of these recommendations come from the Society of Human Resources Management Association (SHRM).

Write “Covid-19” Inspired Job Descriptions

When hiring for a new role, your job description should always communicate that the business takes every precautionary measure to protect its employees and minimize risk. If this is an “in-office” role, the job description should state that the company follows all cleaning and social distancing protocols instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. These assurances will build trust in the company, making it more likely for strong candidates to follow through the entire recruitment process. Plus, this practice will differentiate your job posting from others on the market.

Did you know that Adzuna, an online platform that tracks job seekers’ search trends, has forecasted a 600% increase for search terms “remote,” “telecommute,” or “work from home” by the year-end 2020? This sudden development proves that job applicants are more interested in telecommuting opportunities due to Covid-19. As a result, your job descriptions should inform candidates when there will be instances where work travel is required. For example, will they be expected to meet with clients in-person or come to HQ to participate in staff meetings? If yes, candidates need to know these conditions as they may not be able to abide by them, due to inadequate childcare or poor health conditions.

Conduct Virtual Interviews

As you may have guessed, the interview process should be conducted virtually to adhere to social distancing protocols. Orchestrating these video-conferencing interviews may sound daunting, but they are easy to administer if well-prepared in advance. To help you prepare, here’s list of tips you can complete:

  • Know the job description, the candidate’s resume, and specific questions to ask.
  • Choose a quiet, well-lit room for interviews.
  • Please make sure all parties have received the correct interview time on their calendar, properly adjusting for different time zones.
  • Share how to access video-conferencing technology and applicable software with the candidates.
  • One to two hours before the interview, ensure that the video conferencing software and hardware (i.e., camera and microphone) are working correctly. Remind the candidate to do the same.
  • Be sure to set the right expectations for your candidates. Give them advance notice that the interviews will be conducted virtually and provide the reasons you are using video interviewing. Let them know what’s expected from the interview.
  • If you plan to record an interview, be sure to check the state laws to determine if it is necessary to receive the applicant’s consent before the interview.

Note: Certain employers may require applicants physically visit the work site for an interview. In these situations, the employer must take every safety precaution to protect the workplace, as recommended by the public health authorities.

Test for Covid-19

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released guidance on how to test job applicants for the Coronavirus. Employers may only screen job applicants after making a conditional offer, as long as they do it to all employees and or job applications in the same position. It is essential that you practice a consistent interviewing process with all job applicants to destroy any perception or evidence of discrimination.

If time is on your side and your job applicant tests positive with Covid-19, you could delay the applicant’s start date. If you need the applicant to start immediately, you could withdraw the job offers to applicants who have COVID-19 or its symptoms. Finally, if the applicant refuses to work at a designated work location, you could choose not to hire or rehire them.

Onboard Employees Virtually

Though we are in a period where social distancing must be practiced, you should make an effort to onboard your new employees virtually. They need to understand how their role fits into the bigger picture. To accomplish this, your HR department should collaborate with the Marketing or IT department to create videos that provide an overview of the onboarding process. The content of these videos should cover the business’s mission and goals, give a brief overview of your services or products, introduce critical leaders, and provide essential resources to employees.

Allow Temporary Telecommuting Options

Now hired, then what? Once you have successfully recruited and onboarded new employees, you may want to let them work off-site temporarily if you suspect that they have been exposed to the Coronavirus. According to the EEOC, once the period has ended, you can require workers to submit doctors’ notes to certify their fitness for duty.

Parallelly, if an employee fears to return to work due to health and safety concerns, you can ease their anxiety by providing information on all the precautionary measures you have implemented in the office. Or, you could let them work from home by accommodating their request under the ADA guidelines. Ultimately, if the position requires them to work onsite, you could choose to let them go.

Hiring post-COVID-19 has raised new health and safety concerns that employers must address appropriately. They can no longer recruit, hire, and onboard new employers the traditional way. They need to implement new virtual processes that keep the workplace safe and operational. Otherwise, they could be sued.

Some laws protect candidates and employees who refuse to work onsite if doing so would violate one of the federal, state, and local orders directing nonessential businesses to cease operations. Consequently, employers should tread carefully during these unprecedented times and seek advice from legal counsel when uncertain. For additional information, please email for further assistance and guidance.