There is much commotion surrounding the Coronavirus outbreaks around the world today; however, finding the best way to handle office health arrangements for a Coronavirus outbreak doesn’t have to be a mystery. Keep reading because we have the seven best solutions right here.
- Stem the immediate risk. Determine your management’s policy toward employees who exhibit symptoms of the illness – now before someone gets sick. Consider instituting a liberal leave policy for anyone diagnosed with the illness or under a quarantine order from a physician or from a government agency.
- Take stock. Every business’s risk from the Coronavirus is particular to its customer base, the need for global travel, and its obligations to employees. Decide the best way for your firm to address the issues. Make sure the response you eventually formulate correlates to the immediate risk in your area. In addition, the rules put in place during this time of emergency must still meet the requirements of federal anti-discrimination in employment rules. And remember, Coronavirus will require treating the illness as you would any other disability.
- Wash hands. Wear masks. Inform employees of the need to wear surgical masks – only if they are ill – to prevent the spread of disease. Employees should take extra time to wash their hands more frequently and for at least 20 seconds and to use hand sanitizers often. While these steps may seem rudimentary, they do help control the spread of communicable diseases and, perhaps more importantly, give employees a sense of control over the current turbulence. Share the Centers for Disease Control precautions with your employees by posting the information in break-rooms.
- Paid sick leave. Workers who become ill with the virus will be able to take paid sick leave. Depending on the particulars of your organization and the employee’s situation, Family Medical Leave (FMLA) may also be available. Make sure the Human Resources Department is prepared to expedite FMLA requests which employees will more than likely submit on an emergency basis with no 30 days notice required. Encourage employees recovering from the illness who have no sick leave available (but who are able to work) to telecommute to work from home. Check all contracts and policies to determine whether work from home is a viable solution.
- Medical Assessment/Clearance. To the extent reasonable, businesses have an obligation to protect their employees from getting ill from the virus. Therefore, requiring employees who are ill to stay home may be a reasonable rule provided that the decision is based on accurate medical information. Employees who exhibit Coronavirus symptoms (such as sneezing, fever and difficulty breathing) should receive immediate health care. This is especially true where the employee was exposed to the virus by reason of travel to an affected area or exposed to someone ill with the disease. The business may also require a doctor’s clearance before the employee may return to work, just as your business treats other communicable diseases.
- Limit travel. If your business has contacts in some epidemic areas that require your employees to travel there, the Government has issued it’s strongest warning with respect to certain epidemic areas due to the health risks there: DO NOT TRAVEL. Consider teleconferencing in lieu of travel while the epidemic lasts.
- Communication is fundamental. To control fearfulness among staff, communication is the key. Impart current medical thinking on the outbreak. Keep staff apprised of the current and inevitably evolving situation. Calm their uncertainty by telling your employees the steps you have taken to protect them from a possible outbreak and about the sick pay and other benefits available to them should they become ill. Keep them apprised of the federal government’s current travel advisories and warnings.