There are many issues and “what if’s” concerning COVID – 19.
We know Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that causes COVID- 19 and is now spreading from person-to-person, globally. In some cases, a panic has arisen over how fast this disease may spread. As an employer or employee, we can play a part in stopping this virus from spreading so quickly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the following actions as precautionary measures that may help Coronavirus from spreading at work.
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. If your employees are exhibiting signs of a fever for at least 24 hours, they should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Re-evaluate your sick leave policies to ensure they are flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Ensure that your employees aware of your sick leave policy.
Don’t require a note from a health care provider for a day or two of absences. Be flexible and realize that employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members more than is usual.
Separate sick employees. Employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e., cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
Emphasize common sense respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available). Provide tissues and no-touch disposal garbage cans for use by all employees. Wash hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hand sanitizer is available, keep it in visible places where employees will be encouraged to use it. The hand sanitizer should contain at least 60-95% alcohol. Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage for more information.
Routinely and thoroughly clean the work environment. All frequently touched surfaces in the workplace should be cleaned using cleaning agents that kill the Coronaviruses, following directions on the label. Workstations, countertops, doorknobs, and keyboards are some of the surfaces that need extra attention.
If employees must travel, advise them to take certain steps. Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick. If employees become sick while traveling, ensure they understand that they should call a healthcare provider if needed, and to notify their supervisor.
There are important additional measures in response to currently occurring sporadic importations of the COVID-19 as suggested by the CDC. Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19, should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
It is important to revisit your employee handbook to ensure that you have a communicable or infectious disease policy. As part of this policy include social distancing and a business continuation plan. Whether an employer or employee, if we all play it safe and follow particular recommended guidelines, we can help stop the spread of this virus.
If you need any further advice or help with policies or business continuation plans, contact a trusted Human Resources Company for planning.
Heidi Shadel is a Cumberland business owner and graduate of Frostburg State University with a master’s in business administration. She believes in small business and the power that it holds in America’s economy, especially having a passion for helping small businesses succeed within the tri-state region.
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