In a FinOps report, New York Data Privacy and Cybersecurity co-head Doron Goldstein discussed what will be required of business leaders to successfully bring employees back to the physical workplace during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Doron discussed how employers should follow data privacy laws and protect the sensitive health information of their employees, which has become more important during the pandemic. According to Doron, employers should keep such information for valid business reasons and only for as long as necessary.

“Data on temperature checks on most other symptoms will likely not need to be retained, but information on risk and or disability determination and resulting actions — such as requiring an individual to continue to work remotely for two weeks or specific accommodations — might be,” Doron said. “In many instances, the employer can reasonably determine that there is a need to keep information, as in the case of litigation, medical or insurance claims.”

The United States Senate is currently reviewing a bill called the “COVID Consumer Data Protection Bill,” which outlines protections for personal information. If adopted, the bill would require companies to obtain consent from individuals to collect, process or transfer their personal health, geolocation or proximity information in order to track the spread of COVID-19. The bill would also allow individuals to opt out of having their information collected or to have all personally identifiable information deleted when it is no longer being used for such purposes.

In addition to data privacy issues, the FinOps report also discussed how employers can avoid potential litigation when employees return to the workplace by relying on legal counsel to interpret federal and state regulations related to the pandemic, what office life will look like once employees return to work (such as redesigned office spaces that meet social distancing protocols) and how to prepare in the event an employee catches the virus.

Without knowing when the pandemic will be over, employers need to continue to be careful and flexible as they navigate changing guidance and legal interpretations.

Read, “COVID-19: Addressing Return to Work Legal Quirks,” in its entirety.