As the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continues to outbreak across the globe, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has been regularly releasing new updates and developments, along with best practices and instructions for businesses to help prevent the further spread of the disease. Please note that these may change as international health groups like the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to monitor the virus’ progress. Always refer to the CDC’s website for the latest developments.
Institute a More Flexible Teleworking Policy
Already, massive corporations like Facebook and Amazon have temporarily closed offices or instituted mandatory work-from-home in high-risk locations like Seattle. While your business may not be as susceptible to COVID-19 as international conglomerates like these, an ad-hoc work-from-home (WFH) policy is the best way to ensure your employees won’t come in contact with the virus in the workplace. If your company already has an existing teleworking policy, consider making these modifications:
- If your current WFH policy requires a doctor’s note, temporarily void this requirement
- Extend the amount of consecutive days employees can work from home
- Re-emphasize that if an employee is sick, they should not come into the office
Combating COVID with a Cleaner Office
Create a healthier working environment by wiping down all frequently touched or communal surfaces in the office, including counters, doorknobs, shared conference call equipment, and coffee machines. As of this writing, the CDC hasn’t recommended any additional disinfecting besides routine wipe-downs. Consider posting signage that reminds staff of hygienic habits like thoroughly washing hands and avoiding excessive touching of the face. If possible, companies should also provide ample amounts of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at various locations throughout the office.
If an Employee Has Contracted Coronavirus
If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, it is imperative that employers inform their staff of their potential exposure to the virus, while upholding the confidentiality and privacy of the employee in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protocol. Other employees that have been in contact with the worker who has contracted the virus should refer to the CDC’s latest advisory.
Stay Up to Date
The number one precaution employers can take to combat the spread or contraction of coronavirus is to stay as informed as possible. By regularly monitoring communications from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the World Health Organization, and your local health authorities, you can proactively ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect the health and wellbeing of your employees.