In a lot of conversations I’m having, I keep hearing about COVID waivers. And it should be no surprise. As coronavirus cases continue to increase, companies, school districts, and universities are grappling with reopening safely. They’re weighing the risks of returning and reopening, and in doing that many of them are thinking about COVID waivers.
COVID waivers are documents presented by a business or educational institution that, when signed, waives your right to sue in the event that you contract COVID-19 on the premises of business or school.
And this can go beyond your employer or your school. Think about your daily activities. You might be asked to sign a COVID waiver when you go to get your haircut, when you visit the dentist, when you go to the spa, when you go to the gym, or a personal training session, and so on.
If you’ve done any of these activities since COVID-19 has hit, then you’ve already likely been asked to sign a COVID waiver. When you sign this waiver, you’re signing away your right to sue the business, school, or service provider if you contract COVID-19 on their premises.
When considering COVID waivers, there are a few types to consider.
Consumer waivers: There are many areas where we’re used to consumer waives. Things like amusement parks, skiing, and trampoline parks typically ask consumers to sign a liability waiver. Basically they know what you’re about to do might be a little risky, and they’re asking you to acknowledge that, and to not sue if anything happens to you as a result of this risk. With COVID waivers this philosophy carries forward but becomes potentially more common across our lives. Barbershops, gyms, for kids at daycare, or for children at school are all examples where you may see consumer waivers being used more commonly.
Employee Waivers: In seeking to reduce risk, some companies are seeking to have their employees sign waivers when returning to work. These waivers may help the company mitigate its risk when it comes to employees contracting COVID-19 at work. But they also serve the purpose of defining employee expected behavior while at work. For example, some will say that employees need to wear a mask or to abide by social distancing guidelines.
Student Waivers: After many school districts and colleges closed their campuses in March of last semester, they are now slowly assessing plans that are right for them. These plans can include a full, full-time return to campus, a full remote plan, or a hybrid model. As they seek to return, some schools are requesting parents of registered students to sign COVID-19 waivers.
Should your company or schools put any of these COVID waivers in place? Well, it’s probably too early to say, and it will likely be on a case-by-case, state-by-state basis. Some states are very friendly to waivers like this, meaning that if a consumer signs a waiver, it’s binding. Other states take a different approach and will look at the circumstances applicable to the waiver and scenario in which it was signed. To get more clarity on your specific case, it’s best to work with a lawyer who practices in this area.
Like anything in our new world, you’ll want the signing of COVID waivers to be contactless. Things like sharing a pen, a tablet, or other similar forms of signing raise the risk of transmitting COVID. To put contactless signings in place for your waiver, there are generally two approaches you can take.
One is to have a sharable electronic waiver template links set up. Here, the person can scan a QR code on your desk, for example. The code brings them to your COVID waiver on their mobile phone, and they can fill in the required information and sign from there. This results in a fully contactless signing of a COVID waiver.
A second way is to send waivers in advance. If you expect a visitor, for example, or have a form that all parents need to sign, you can email them a link in advance. Again, you’d use a sharable template link and have them sign contactlessly without having to interact with them. A fully remote signing solution.
Want to find out more about how eSignatures can be used for signing COVID-19 waivers for your business? Just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately, just sign-up for a free trial here.