With Covid restrictions being lifted in the US, there are many steps currently being taken now by businesses and governments to get people back to work. While there may still be many uncertainties regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies are reevaluating their current health and safety protocols and looking to adjust workplace guidance. Meaning more and more people are being asked to return to the workplace.
As vaccination rates continue to rise, many states, government agencies and private businesses are implementing plans to encourage their employees back to work. In addition, many organizations realize that the time has come to look at ways to cope with Covid rather than waiting for it to completely vanish.
With at-home testing now widely available, some employers are providing kits to their staff to encourage their safe return to work. Many businesses are also monitoring how many of their employees are vaccinated and how many have recovered from Covid.
After long periods of working remotely, there are now reopening orders and mitigation measures affecting the private sector throughout North Carolina. Depending on your industry, these instructions can vary widely. So, it’s best to speak directly with your employer to find out exactly how they apply to you and follow official guidance where available.
Depending on where you work, your employer and the industry you work in, you may be affected differently. However, most of the guidance is being issued at a local level. Specific guidelines are available on the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources website for residents of North Carolina.
Many state agencies are introducing different layers of security measures at workplaces to help ensure their employees’ safety and encourage people to feel safe returning to work. These include:
recommending and assisting with vaccination of employees
maintaining social distance
installing barriers in public-facing areas
making hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray and wipes available
Other steps may include temporarily closing shared public spaces such as kitchens or fitness rooms and altering the existing layout of office spaces. Many private businesses are also taking these steps to help facilitate the safe and practical return to work for their staff.
For some state workers in North Carolina, employees must wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status. Currently, this impacts specific industries only. Including correctional facilities, facilities that serve the homeless, transport facilities like airports or train stations, and certain health care services such as hospitals or outpatient services. In addition, schools and child care services also require face coverings for their employees.
There have been various studies completed since the pandemic began that show a mixture of disconnect and excitement about returning to the workplace. Many people believe that corporate America has changed forever. As a result, businesses will need to reassess the future of work to incorporate even greater flexibility for their employees.
Workplace messaging platform Slack recently surveyed around 10,000 workers and found a definite disconnect regarding returning to workplaces between executives and regular employees. For example, the report found three-quarters of executives wanted to return to working in the office three to five days a week, compared with about one-third of other employees.
Additional research has found that many employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home and simply don’t want to return to the office full time. Remote work offers greater work-life balance and flexibility for managing family life, particularly childcare or other caregiving responsibilities. Many employees also enjoy the extra time they get in their day due to a reduction in commuting time which offers greater productivity for personal or work endeavors.
The changes won’t impact your current insurance coverage, but if you’re considering changing jobs because of restrictions being lifted, it’s essential to consider what these changes could mean for your existing health insurance plan. This is particularly important if you have employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.
Here are some options to be aware of if you’re considering changing jobs and need new health insurance:
COBRA: If you leave an employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, you may continue coverage after finishing work through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) or continuation coverage.
Your family or spouse’s health insurance: If you’re under 26 years old or married to someone with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, you may be added to your family member’s insurance plan. This option allows you to maintain coverage and can be an affordable choice.
Health Insurance Marketplace coverage with a subsidy: Many insurance plans are available via the Health Insurance Marketplace. You could qualify for a subsidy if your income falls within 100 and 400% of the federal poverty limit (FPL). It’s good to chat with a North Carolina health insurance agent to understand how subsidies work before purchasing.
Private Insurance: You can purchase a private insurance plan, but be mindful that there are no government subsidies available for these plans.
Short-term plans: These are a good option if you only need short-term coverage, but be aware pre-existing conditions aren’t typically covered under short-term plans.
Medicare: If you’re 65, consider health insurance coverage under Medicare. Our Medicare agents can help you find the best Medicare plan in North Carolina.
If you’re considering changing jobs because of Covid restrictions lifted, it’s essential to think about the implications this decision may have on your health insurance benefits and premiums. If you’ve got any questions about: changing jobs insurance gap or changing jobs COBRA insurance, our licensed NC health insurance agents can help. Get in touch with us today or compare plans online. Your return to work plan North Carolina may impact your current insurance coverage; get in touch today.
Dr. Larry Wu
Blue Cross NC