Coronavirus: How to Face A Pandemic in the Workplace - Zupnick Associates

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone throughout the world. More and more cases of COVID-19 are spreading throughout the United States, but many Americans still have to go to work. For employees who work in close contact with each other, this can be a very stressful time. If you’re at work in New York or one of the other coronavirus hotspots, here are some steps you should take to keep your office calm as well as virus-free.

Communicate with Employees

As an employer, you owe it to your workforce to keep them informed and up to date. This means communicating regularly with them about ongoing changes with the coronavirus. This includes:

  • how the coronavirus relates to company policy

  • necessary safety precautions

  • the possibility of working remotely

  • good hygiene practices

  • visitor screening

It’s crucial to show your employees that you are staying abreast of the situation and striving to keep everyone safe. It’s also a good idea to provide employees with additional resources so they can stay informed.   

Promote Good Hygiene and Safety Practices

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you are required to provide your employees with a safe and healthy workplace. During the coronavirus, you should remind your members of staff about safety precautions and preventative measure, such as:

  • Handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds

  • Using hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol

  • Avoiding touching their faces

  • Covering sneezes and coughs with tissues or their sleeves

  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick

  • Remaining at home when sick

  • Regularly disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces

To make this easier, ensure that employees have access to soap, sanitizer, and disinfectant when needed.

Encourage Sick Employees to Remain at Home

If one of your employees becomes sick or has been exposed to someone who has the virus, you must encourage them to stay at home. Allowing them into the workplace puts everyone at risk, even if they have not yet tested positive for the coronavirus. The individual should remain at home until they no longer have a fever or other symptoms for at least 24 hours. Make sure that you are aware of the new laws about sick leave and sick pay that go into effect on April 20th. Explain to your employees how the new acts will affect them. This will give them some assurance if they are afraid of losing money if they take time off work. If an employee arrives at work showing symptoms of the coronavirus, you should immediately separate that person form other employees and arrange for them to return home.

Suspend Business Travel

By now, you should have already suspended business travel to other countries. Although there is currently no nation-wide travel ban, you should also consider suspending non-essential business travel to other regions throughout the United States, particularly those who have a high number of cases of coronavirus. These include New York, Northern California, and New Jersey. Many states have ordered that any travelers arriving from out of state must quarantine themselves for a period of fourteen days. These include:

  • New Hampshire

  • Alaska

  • Montana

  • Massachusetts

  • Hawaii

Allow Employees Work Remotely

In many essential industries, it is not possible for all your employees to work from home. However, if you do have employees that can work remotely, encouraging them to do so can lower the risk of infection for them and for your other members of staff. If you do have employees who wish to telecommute, make sure they have all the necessary equipment and IT support to do so safely. It’s also important to make sure that they are paid for all their working hours and reimbursed for necessary expenses.

Keeping Abreast of Changes

The coronavirus situation in the United States and worldwide is changing daily. It’s vital that you follow any new restrictions that are imposed regarding work, travel, and safety. Explain all new changes to your employees, maintain safety precautions, and prepare for any possible emergencies. 

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