Putting Safety First

Providing protective measures for both customers and employees is a smart move for retailers.

October 14, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Retailers have thought through many scenarios to make shopping easy and safe during this pandemic. With regulations changing frequently, it’s imperative to keep up with all the alterations. On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Protect Your Business From COVID-19 Lawsuits,” Christina Lewis, a partner with the law firm Goodwin, discusses how the coronavirus pandemic has altered the employment landscape. “Since March, COVID has really taken over the employment world because it really affects every facet of an employee’s day,” she said.

For example, for employers who have employees working remotely, questions about tracking hours and concerns about propriety information being accessed at home have arisen. “We’ve also had a lot of employers who realized they need to look at their personnel policies and modify them to fit the times,” she said. “We now have employers developing very COVID-specific policies that supersede the old policies but only during this pandemic.”

Many retailers have set up task forces or committees “to understand the different guidelines that are in place related to COVID,” Lewis said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and many states have issued their own set of regulations on how retailers can safely operate.

These task forces keep up-to-date on those guidelines in order to modify the retailer’s policies to align with the regulations. “The task force has to be on top of each and every one of those guidelines and where they intersect. Even more importantly, those guidelines seem to change on an almost daily basis,” she said. “What might have been true yesterday, won’t be true tomorrow.”

Lewis estimates there have been 4,500 COVID-related lawsuits filed, from negligence related to OSHA inspections and citations. “When you first reopen, there’s a big push to get everything in place and compliant with all the policies,” she said. “But as time marches on, you can become complacent and lose some of that discipline.”

For more on how to protect your business from coronavirus-related lawsuits, listen to the episode here. Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.

As the pandemic continues, understanding how to provide the best work environment for employees is critical. The HR and Labor education sessions during the upcoming NACS Crack the Code Experience (November 2 through December 4) will cover your questions and more. Sessions include Navigating the Current Labor Landscape; Motivating and Protecting Your Frontline; Moments that Matter: Recruiting, Onboarding and Retaining Employees (part 1 of 3); Moments that Matter: Recruiting, Onboarding and Retaining Employees (part 2 of 3) and Moments that Matter: Recruiting, Onboarding and Retaining Employees (part 3 of 3). Make sure to register for your own Crack the Code Experience! Don’t delay—register today!

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.