As an employer, it is imperative to stay informed of the frequently changing COVID-19 Coronavirus.
The best resource we have found for COVID-19 Coronavirus information and updates is the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website. Following is some helpful information including symptoms and signs to watch for, as well as how you can be prepared in the event of an illness or outbreak among your workforce.
COVID-19 is causing outbreaks of Respiratory Infection. Some cases are mild, but some are severe and can be lethal. It is likely to spread when respiratory droplets containing the virus from a person’s coughs & sneezes are transmitted to another. The CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in 2-14 days after exposure.
There is no current vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Therefore, it is important for all employees to take steps to reduce the transmission of communicable diseases in the workplace. Please remind employees of the following:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue whenever you sneeze, and discard used tissues in the trash.
- Avoid people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
The CDC provides recommendations on travel during outbreaks like this. These are called travel notices and are based on the assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to any given area. You can find a continually updated list on the CDC’s website.
At the time of this communication, it is not necessary for all travel plans to be postponed or cancelled. Instead, research the risk level at the above link to find out current breakout information in the location of travel.
If you or your team do plan to travel, take the following routine precautions:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Telecommuting requests may rise and could be a reasonable option to use at your discretion if your employees are located in areas of confirmed outbreak and need to use public transportation to get to and from work. Continually check the CDC’s website for confirmed outbreak location updates.
When contemplating telecommuting as an option, consider:
- Does telecommuting satisfy your needs as an employer?
- You may choose to be more generous about telecommuting temporarily while siting the outbreak presents “unusual circumstances.”
- Consider potential legal claims. The Occupational Safety and Health Act whistleblower protections allow an employee to refuse work assignments when the worker has a reasonable fear.
- Some employees may be immunosuppressed or other conditions that may make telecommuting during the outbreak a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Policies and Procedures
The COVID-19 has not yet hit the U.S. severely, but if it does reach a pandemic stage, it’s better to be prepared. So, plan ahead! It is important for employees to feel calm during this time and know that they are in good hands and that you are looking out for their safety.
Having a policy in place for this type of situation provides transparency and reassurance to your team. Review this sample Infection Disease Control Policy and partner with your HR Team or provider as needed to implement any additional policies needed in your workplace.
If you have any other HR questions, please reach out to us at 630.928.0510 or fill out the form below.