You may be wondering how the coronavirus might impact your company. As your HR partner, it’s our job to stay on top of developments like this and consider the coronavirus on your behalf.
The virus often resembles a cold or flu, and is still evolving. It’s necessary to take precautions as soon as possible with a twofold goal: to keep your employees healthy, and to keep your business running smoothly. To achieve both aims, trusted resources from Willis Towers Watson, the CDC, SHRM, and OSHA provide excellent direction.
The coronavirus is a known hazard, so OSHA standards stipulate that businesses must protect employees from it. This means sending sick workers home so they can seek medical care. Even if they are coughing and sneezing but feel otherwise OK, these symptoms can cause concern to others and spread germs. Educate employees on proper workplace hygiene such as frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer or disposable wipes. Perform routine environmental cleaning such as disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces, but don’t go overboard; OSHA standards also dictate that businesses must protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals in cleaning supplies. Limit large gatherings and physical contact. Most importantly, let your employees know who they can come to with questions or concerns regarding the health of their workplace.
If an employee is not too sick to work but still has some cold-like symptoms, have them work remotely if possible. Limit face-to-face meetings and travel via airports or other mass transportation. Review health benefits with employees so they feel comfortable going to the doctor should they become sick. Communicate your plan clearly so that employees don’t perceive these measures as a punishment for their symptoms. Those who contract the coronavirus are covered under FMLA, so leave policies can be enforced if necessary. Have backup plans for each role, understanding how departments can function if any employee must leave their role for an extended period.
If you have questions or wish to discuss your coronavirus response plan further, reach out to your Synergy HR representative.