As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads domestically in the United States, employers should take proactive action to address employee concerns regarding COVID-19, plan for the potential impact of its transmission at the workplace, and be ready to take action in the event of suspected or actual virus exposure at work.
Centralized communication and planning: Employers should ensure they have a centralized leadership team to address workplace communications regarding COVID-19. In addition, a COVID-19 taskforce should review employer policies in the context of virus outbreak.
- The COVID-19 taskforce should consist of members of operations, security, HR, legal, and IT.
- Employers should instruct supervisors to refrain from questioning employees regarding suspected illnesses. Further, employers should direct supervisors and employees to route all concerns regarding COVID-19 to specifically identified members of the employer’s COVID-19 taskforce.
- The COVID-19 taskforce should prepare communications to distribute to the workforce describing:
- The steps the employer is taking to respond to COVID-19 to ensure a safe workplace.
- The sources employees can consult for information regarding COVID-19 (e.g., the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, and the local public health department).
- Actions employees can take to reduce exposure risk (e.g., washing hands)
- The employer’s leave, sick, and telecommuting policies.
Contingency plans: Employees may be absent from work not only due to illness, but also in the event of self-quarantine or to care for dependents who are ill or at home due to daycare and school closures. As a result, employers should plan now for how their businesses will continue to operate in the event that a large portion of the workforce is absent. Employer contingency plans should identify key personnel and duties, and provide for cross-training of personnel on duties that are essential to continuous operation of the business.Continue Reading Action items for employer task forces responding to novel coronavirus (COVID-19)