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The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) held its first-ever virtual training meeting on July 9 to provide member shops with the proper resources and direction needed in order to bring their employees back to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dozens of AASP/NJ members logged on to Zoom for “COVID-19 – What’s Your Game Plan? Return to Work Safely Strategy!” to hear from Jack Spottiswood and Bob Plett of American Compliance, who provided details on the steps being taken to reopen the country, preventative measures, training and how to be aware of and handle employees with symptoms.
“Obviously, in the world we live in today, this ‘new normal’ is not the old normal,” said Jerry McNee, president of AASP/NJ. “These are the things we need to do to protect ourselves and our employees.”
Spottiswood informed the automotive community about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which grants full-time employees with two weeks (up to 80 hours) worth of pay if they are sick or caring for a family member who is sick. For part-time employees, the paid leave would amount to the equivalent of their total hours over a two-week period. Via the Act, employers can get a refundable payroll tax credit on the two-week paid leave.
“If additional sick time is needed, the employee will have to use whatever amount of sick time they have available through their employer,” said Plett.
Added Spottiswood, “One of the points [of the Act is] trying to get people to know that they should stay home if they are sick and that you are going to pay them.”
In addition to going over the basics of making sure to enforce handwashing and mask wearing, they advised AASP/NJ members to take a look at their work environment and see how things can be set up to make employees practice social distancing by limiting areas where people may tend to congregate, such as a breakroom or a lunchroom. Spottiswood suggested that due to the circumstances of these extreme times, it may be safest to have employees eat their lunch at their own workstations, rather than at a table shared by many.
Other strategies toward creating a safer environment include having non-essential workers telecommute, staggering work shifts and restricting entry to the facility for non-employees, including delivery people who can easily leave items outside rather than enter the building to hand them off.
Spottiswood suggested employers consider keeping their employees informed about their community, workplace and the steps that need to be taken around the facility in order to help staff members understand why these measures are so crucial.
“If workers aren’t buying into it, it’s not going to happen. If you tell them ‘just do it’, but they don’t know why, they may not do it. If you explain to them, they are more likely to want to protect themselves and do what is recommended.”
A link to a recording of the meeting is available on AASP/NJ’s home page at aaspnj.org.