The corona virus pandemic has created a quickly shifting regulatory landscape when it comes to how companies interact with their employees and customers alike. As businesses look to reopen and the country seeks a return to something resembling normal, there are a variety of logistical obstacles to overcome.
Figuring out ways to keep business moving in a pandemic can be a challenge without having to worry about legal ramifications and meeting government regulations. Building your strategy for returning employees and keeping them save at work has to account for unfortunate scenarios like Covid-19 employee Infections. Involving infections increasing in the workplace thereafter, employers will need to be prepared to prove how the company is meeting stipulated guidelines for workplace.
What are the key risks?
The criterion employers are struggling with is whether the Covid-19 employee Infection is work-related. Employers cannot assume that an employee contracted COVID-19 from going to the grocery store or otherwise being out in public. Instead, employers must make reasonable efforts to determine if the exposure might be work-related. Employers should also take heed of the Department of Health’s (DoH) Guidelines for symptom monitoring and management as a starting guide. Although this alone, may not be enough to support your business and employees if Covid-19 employee infections begin occurring. Employers must investigate whether their employees contracted the virus at work, but determining that is difficult because it is so widespread.
Although conducting these extensive protocols can be tasking, it is necessary. If your organisation doesn’t have a Covid-19 Workplace Management Program in place that conducts screenings and testings on your behalf. Then you should strongly consider the investment, otherwise we have a basic guide for you when questioning your employees if they have been infected.
Reasonable efforts include:
- Asking the employee limited questions about how he or she believes COVID-19 was contracted.
- Making inquiries about the employee’s work and non-work activities, and possible exposure, leading up to the diagnosis.
- Investigating the employee’s work environment to determine whether COVID-19 exposure was possible. This might include considering whether other employees in the work area have tested positive, the employee’s job duties and exposure to the public. Whether the work areas are crowded and do not facilitate social distancing.
Employers don’t need to conduct extensive investigations into non-work activities.
Other than asking these questions and considering readily available evidence. Employers should avoid extensive medical inquiries that violate an employee’s right to privacy. An employer shouldn’t ask whether an employee’s spouse or child has been infected with Corona virus.
The employer may ask how the employee thinks he or she got the virus and whether it was away from work. If the employee responds that someone in his or her household contracted it recently, the employee’s corona virus likely is not work-related. An employer can then reasonably conclude that a case is likely not work-related. Especially if the employee is the only worker to contract the virus and their duties don’t include contact with the public.
An employer is required to determine the likelihood that the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace only based on information reasonably available to it at the time of its investigation. The employer must update the investigation if it later learns more information related to an employee’s Corona virus illness. Although these basic guidelines may help you keep track of your employees and the infection rate, it may not help you in mitigating risks.
The importance of an implemented covid-19 Management Program to Mitigate Risks
Many organisations are taking it upon themselves to manage protocols and screenings, having a support system in place is extremely important for the sustainability of organisations. Especially during current economic instability if Covid-19 employee Infections are occurring. Employers need to adjust to this new situation and develop a strategy to prevent damages corona virus can bring. When we say damages, we are referring to both the safety and the productivity of your entire workforce regarding crisis management.
Crisis management is the process by which an organisation deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organisation or its stakeholders. Failure to handle crisis properly without change management can result in serious harm to stakeholders, employees, losses for an organisation, or even end its very existence. Studies have shown that employees are far more concerned than you may realize – effecting your organisational productivity flow.
Top issues we have found employees have on their minds during the COVID-19 crisis include:
- Job security
- Personal health
- Childcare and home schooling
- Personal finances
- Remote work
- Visibility of their employer
- Stress and mental health
- Work life balance
- Family health
- Social isolation
- Managing schedule
As you can see, employees have many concerns and that’s where crisis management comes to place. If you don’t already have an established Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which will give your employees the support that they need. Then we highly recommend the implementation of a crisis management program. It remains critical to ensure that the right measures are taken to protect employees and help flatten the curve at each stage of our evolving response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The basic crisis management program will not only conduct screening, tests and implement protocols, but also educate and support your employees. Also providing emergency assistance and compliance should you experience an incident within your workplace.