For some employees, returning to work raises concerns

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As more Minnesota businesses are allowed to reopen, others are mapping out their plan for when employees can return.

But for some workers, heading back also raises concerns for their health and safety.

"Honestly, if I get it, my chances of survival are very slim, very," Brenda Strandmark said.

The 52-year-old has health concerns and does not work outside her home. However, her husband does. 

"I'm concerned about him going back to employment and bringing it back to me," she said.

The reopening of businesses raises questions for those who have health and safety concerns about heading back to work.

"In general, the employer has to give you a safe employment," attorney Jerry Laurie said. 

Laurie is a labor and employment attorney who has been in the business for 53 years. He says the problems presented with COVID-19 is uncharted territory.

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"There is going to be a lot of changes in the workplace, and even new professions probably arising out of this virus," he said.

Laurie says health checks at work, if they happen, may not be welcomed by some.

"They may want to take your temperature, take your blood, send you to the nurse to get checked out for this or that, and some people may feel that's intrusive," Laurie added.

He said this COVID-19 health pandemic could change relations between employers and employee groups, like unions.  

"They obviously have great interest in making sure their members are protected and we may see unions become more powerful because of this," said Laurie.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has prepared a list of questions and answers for workers.

"Talk with your employer, the personnel department, your doctor or whoever you need to talk to so that you get a certain amount of comfort going back into that job," he said.

"I just want to make sure they're not forgetting all of us because we're not all in congregate living situations, but there are people like us out there, and lots of us," Strandmark added.