Should You Be Using Grammarly?

Do you rely on Microsoft Word’s grammar check to clean up your writing? You may want to make the switch to Grammarly, the online writing assistant.

Grammarly promises to help you write mistake-free in Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other app you use including text messages, your browser, and Microsoft Word. The basic version is free, with premium plans starting at $11.66 per month.

Security and Client Confidentiality

Grammarly data is encrypted and stored in the United States on a private, secure network. As to data access and client confidentiality:

Grammarly has a set of policies and technical controls that prevent employees from accessing customer data that is stored or processed by Grammarly systems. Where appropriate, Grammarly uses private keys and restricts network access to particular employees.

While Grammarly may track anonymized, aggregate statistics by website domain, Grammarly doesn’t collect browsing history from specific users while they browse the web. Information such as web server access logs or IP addresses is collected only for a limited time and only to provide specific services to the user, such as fraud prevention.

How Does Grammarly Work?

To learn how Grammarly works, we turn to Ayesha Siddiqua from Blogging Filter. Ayesha’s post covers all the details, including features, benefits, platforms, and plan specifics.

‘To err is human,‘ and that’s where the need for grammar checker tool emerges. I have curated this review post to let you know all about Grammarly, …

Grammarly Review: Is It the Best Grammar Checker Tool

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

Proposed COVID-19 OSHA Rules Will Apply to Law Firms

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing a temporary rule that would require all employers to implement risk-reducing COVID measures, including social distancing, barriers, face coverings, cleaning, and information sharing.

The temporary rule has a planned effective date of Monday, September 14 and would eventually become permanent. View the rulemaking timeline here.

Summary of Key Provisions

Key provisions applicable to law firms include:

Six-foot distancing between all individuals in the workplace

  • Both the work activities and the workplace must be designed to eliminate the need for any worker to be within 6-feet of another individual in order to fulfill their duties.
  • To the extent that the employer can demonstrate that such separation is not practical, the employer must ensure that face coverings are worn and that as much distance as practical is maintained.
  • The 6-foot distancing requirement can also be met with an impermeable barrier that creates a “droplet buffer” of at least 6-feet in distance as measured between the mouths of the affected individuals (the droplet buffer is effectively the distance a string would travel if it were held in the mouths of the two individuals – the rule draft provides several examples of such calculations).

Mandatory Face Coverings

Everyone in the workplace or other premises subject to the employer’s control must wear face coverings (masks, cloth coverings, or face shields) whenever the 6-foot distancing requirement cannot be consistently assured.

  • Face coverings must be worn by employees and other individuals whenever customers, contractors, or other visitors are present and a strict separation cannot be maintained through barriers that physically prevent individuals from approaching within 6 feet of one another.
  • Face coverings must be worn by employees when the work requires them to be within 6 feet of one or more individuals for more than 5 minutes either in a singular instance or in all cases when work requires such contact more than 30 minutes total in the course of a single working day.
  • Face coverings must be worn by employees working in office settings when not at their desk or seated in a conference room in addition to whenever 6-foot distancing cannot be reliably maintained between individuals (for example, face coverings must be worn in corridors, restrooms, elevators, and stairwells).

Cleaning of High-Contact Surfaces

All employers must ensure that all high-contact surfaces used by multiple employees (door handles, telephones, computers, drinking fountains, etc.) are thoroughly cleaned at the beginning of each shift.

  • All shared equipment and high-touch surfaces must be cleaned before use by another employee.
  • The employer must ensure that employees have the supplies necessary and are able to use proper hand hygiene before and after using shared equipment or tools and before eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, or smoking.

Social Distancing and Enforcement Officer

Employers with at least 25 employees at any time must designate one or more employees who will be responsible to assist the employer in identifying appropriate social distancing, proper face covering use, and sanitation measures and ensure such policies and procedures are implemented.

Building Owners/Operators

Building operators must ensure that the building layout allows appropriate social distancing and must ensure that the basic requirements of this rule are posted (and enforced to the degree reasonably possible) in any common areas, including shared entrances, waiting rooms, corridors, restrooms, and elevators.

Required OSHA Posting, Information, and Employee Training

Employers must provide information and training to their employees:

  • Employers must post the “COVID-19 Hazards Poster,” which will be provided by Oregon OSHA.
  • Employers must notify their employees about the social distancing requirements and how they will be implemented in the workplace, and employers must provide an opportunity for employee feedback about those practices (through the Social Distancing Officer and through either the Safety Committee, an interactive safety meeting, or both). Such notification must be conducted in a manner and language understood by the affected workers.
  • Employers must provide an explanation of the employer’s policies and procedures for employees to report signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Such explanations must be conducted in a manner and language understood by the affected workers.

Medical Removal of Symptomatic Employees

Employers will also be required to address the medical removal of employees with symptoms, undergoing testing, or otherwise requiring isolation:

  • Employers must provide information about any paid leave to which employees would be entitled by company policy as well as under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).
  • Whenever a medical provider or public health official recommends isolation or quarantine, the worker(s) must be reassigned to duties that do not involve in-person contact. Such reassignment must continue until the need no longer exists, based on guidance from the medical provider or involved public health officials.
  • To the degree reassignment is not possible, the employer must allow workers to use leave to which they are entitled under the FFCRA. If the employer is not covered by the FFCRA or has previously opted out of the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA, then the employer must provide up to two weeks of paid reassignment leave in addition to whatever benefits to which the worker would otherwise be entitled. (There are two exceptions to this requirement.)
  • Employees who are reassigned for medical removal reasons are entitled to return to their previous job duties without any adverse action as a result of the medical removal.

Public Comments

Oregon OSHA is accepting public comments on the proposal through Monday, September 7. Send comments via email to tech.web@oregon.gov. The full text of the draft rule may be found here. Background documents are available on the rulemaking overview page.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

COVID Face Masks Now Required in Private Law Offices

Throughout Oregon’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak private offices have been exempt from face covering requirements, provided employees had no public-facing interaction. That changed on Friday, August 14, 2020:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Friday issued new guidance regarding face coverings in office spaces.

The guidance requires people to wear face coverings or face shields in private and public office spaces. Face coverings are required in any areas where 6 feet of distance from other people cannot be maintained such as bathrooms, hallways, elevators and break rooms.

The guidance provides an exception, allowing people to remove their face coverings briefly in situations where someone’s identity needs to be confirmed — such as in banks or in interactions with law enforcement.

Source: OPB Live Updates

If your employees are back in the office, send out an immediate push notification or email regarding this requirement and how it will be implemented in your firm.

Many resources may be found on the state’s COVID web pages, including:

Please note these resources will require updating following Friday’s new mandate.

Office Shares

If you are in an office share, remember you are required maintain six (6) feet of physical distance at all times. Maximum occupancy of the space is determined by allowing
35 square feet per person.

Permitted Face Coverings

In lieu of a mask, a face shield that covers the forehead, extends below the chin, and wraps around the sides of the face is perfectly acceptable. Most face shields do not meet this last requirement, so be careful when selecting shields as an option.

Am I Required to Provide Face Coverings for Employees?

As an employer you may be required to provide face coverings for your employees. Do your research. Contact your local health department for further information.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

 

Training Staff in Small Bites

Getting someone’s attention is tough. Keeping it is even tougher. So why not adapt?

When setting up a training program for staff, offer content that is easily digestible:

  • Choose a theme
  • Set a training period
  • Collect content
  • Divide the content into segments
  • Keep each segment short and limited to one topic

For example, you could designate July as “security” month and distribute brief training segments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Choosing a strong password, avoiding phishing scams, and working remotely could be your first three topics.

Why This Approach?

I’ve been training lawyers and staff for decades. We belong to a profession that values continuing education, but we’re also busy and under pressure. When you distill information it is easier to absorb. Keeping it short means the listener or reader can get what they need and move on with their day.

Where Can I Find Content?

Look to your favorite law blogs. Besides yours truly, Attorney at Work, Lawyerist, and others listed by the ABA Journal are a good start.

Law Practice Today is another great resource. They do themed issues, which makes finding relevant content easier. Access the archives here.

Also see Law Technology Today. Specifically their videos and “quick tips.”

Depending on the topics you wish to address, bar and other professional publications can be helpful too.

Get Staff Involved

While you undoubtedly have some topics in mind, be sure to illicit ideas from staff. What would they like to see covered? Know more about? Ask for their tips or delegate content research to spread the load. Training doesn’t have to be a one-person act.

All rights reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis.

Apps to Help Law Firms Reopen

In our discussion about COVID-19, we’ve reviewed phase one guidelines and specific steps to take in reopening your firm. One of these is whether to screen employees before returning to work. Sounds reasonable, but how exactly should you go about it? Today we take a look.

Thermal Imaging Cameras, Digital Thermometers, and Self Evaluations

Feever

Feever is an artificial intelligence (AI) based, non-contact thermal imaging technology that detects individuals in a crowd with an elevated temperature. Utilizing a thermal imaging camera and the AI based mobile app, Feevr automatically alerts users when a scanned person’s temperature exceeds a predetermined threshold, allowing for immediate intervention. At a price point of $3250 it isn’t cheap and probably better suited to venues that need to easily screen large groups of patrons. Nevertheless, if this solution sounds appealing, do your research. At least one group has severely criticized Feev’rs accuracy.

Feevr PreCheck

Feevr PreCheck is a more economical “sister” product of Feevr, priced at $299.99. The app lets employees take a temperature reading at home – a far more appealing approach for everyone.

With PreCheck employers would give each worker a digital thermometer connected to a smartphone. Readings would be relayed automatically to the firm through the app. Anyone with an elevated temperature would be instructed to stay home.

Everbridge

Everbridge uses a different approach, based in crisis management communication. Their app allows employers to blast messages out to all employees, one of which includes a COVID-19 self-evaluation. Workers are asked if they have symptoms or if they’ve already had the disease and recovered. They can tap the answers into a smartphone, and the employer can use the results to decide who comes into work and who stays at home. Everbridge calls this “IT alerting,” with licenses costing between $32 and $50 per month.

ProtectWell

ProtectWell is a free app developed by Microsoft and UnitedHealth. Like Everbridge, it uses a COVID-19 self evaluation. Here’s how it works:

Employees are invited to download the ProtectWell app.

Before starting work, employees use the symptom screener to answer a few quick questions.

Employees are instantly notified if they are ready to work, need to stay home and manage symptoms or get tested (where available).

To learn more, consider watching the ProtectWell demo (two minutes you won’t regret). Have questions? ProtectWell promises a next business day turnaround on their contact submission page. They also offer free return to work guidelines that are worth checking out. On the contact page, under “How can we help?” select “I would like a free copy of Return to Work Guidelines.”

Six More Apps to Screen Employee Health

Visit the Human Resource Director blog to read about six more apps to screen employee health.

Legalities

You’re the lawyers. If you’re not sure what you can or cannot do, get advice. Oregon’s employment law bloggers have been busy, as a Google search reveals. You can also chat directly with a colleague. (Ask friends for referrals if you don’t already know someone with the right expertise.)  Government websites are also your friend:

What Should I Do Next?

Using a symptom-checker or self evaluation app is a no-brainer. I can’t imagine why firms wouldn’t use ProtectWell at a minimum. Asking employees to self evaluate for a series of symptoms is more accurate than relying exclusively on the presence of fever.

Whatever you do, stay safe.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2020