You cannot turn on the television, listen to the radio, or scroll through Facebook without hearing about the coronavirus. With the number of cases growing daily, experts predict the Covid-19 virus will far outpace the SARS epidemic of 20 years ago. As of today, 129,771 cases have been reported worldwide, according to Worldometer – a statistical analysis company comprised of international developers and researchers. While the general public seems to be torn – and confused about just how to handle this pandemic, business owners are presented with additional questions. So, just how should your business handle coronavirus?
We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide discussing how to balance caution with the growing panic, how to address human resource issues, what to say to clients, and how to create a healthy work environment.
Get the Word Out
When it comes to issues like infection, communication and education are key. Small business owners, corporate executives, and human resource professionals should put together a guide to educate employees about coronavirus. Only gather information from credible sources like government agencies or world health professionals. Implement a protocol for handling infected, or unconfirmed, sick staff members.
Work from Home
Working remotely is a common practice for many companies. While some positions require face-to-face contact, consider allowing non-essential staff to work from home. This limits the possibility of spreading the coronavirus infection. Flexible working arrangements not only prevents the transmission of this virus at work and during the commute, but it also boosts company and employee morale.
Online meeting platforms and shared databases allow employees to interact and work together without missing work and pay, showing your staff you value their health and safety. For employees required to physically come to work, provide masks, hand sanitizer, and any other preventative measure, especially to employees working directly with the general public. Result-driven companies know that it doesn’t matter where an employee works, as long as the work is completed.
Adjust Time Off Policies
As a business owner, you understand the show must go on. However, having sick employees report to work because they can’t afford to recover at home only spreads the coronavirus infection. Employee’s under quarantine or who have confirmed cases of the virus may be eligible for protection under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act commonly referred to as FMLA. Human Resource executives are encouraged to be lenient with the rules under FMLA as it pertains to containing the coronavirus.
For short term illness, whether Covid-19 related or otherwise, do not require a doctor’s note. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), medical offices tend to be extremely busy during pandemics and your employee may not be able to quickly attain the proper documentation. The World Health Organization recommends requiring exposed workers to wait the minimum incubation time of 14 days before returning to work. Individual employers should consider this when modifying their sick pay, paid time off, or unpaid leave policies.
Keep in mind preventing the spread of illness is the priority, and if employees don’t have remaining sick time, they may not be able to afford missing work. This means they’re likely to report to work – even with symptoms. At Debra Lopez Public Relations, we encourage you to wash your hands often and stay home if you’re experiencing any symptoms. If you need help letting clients know how you are handling the coronavirus, contact us.