RISK INSIGHT: Coronavirus HR Considerations

COVID-19, Employee Benefits

The emergence and spread of a novel coronavirus associated infection, COVID-19, has caused heightened concern from employers on how to handle a potential outbreak. The COVID-19 virus, commonly known as “Coronavirus”, is a respiratory virus that appears to be spreading much like the flu.

For many employers, the concern is how to prepare for and potentially handle such an illness in the event that it were to affect your workplace. Here are a few things you can review and encourage in your workplace:

Workplace interventions employers could consider:

  • Encourage sick employees to stay home. Employees who are ill should be encouraged to stay home rather than come to work and potentially expose their co-workers to any type of illness.
  • Emphasize hand hygiene. Encourage your staff to properly wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer when appropriate.
  • Regular cleaning. Employers may want to reinforce the cleaning of common areas such as countertops, kitchen areas and door knobs.

Employers should also consider proactively reviewing their workplace policies which may come into play in the event of an outbreak. Those include:

  • Sick leave. Social distancing can be an effective strategy to prevent the spread of any illness. Employers should consider having a formal sick leave policy in place so employees understand the importance of staying home when ill.
  • Work from home. Many roles within an organization can be accomplished while working from home. Organizations which have these types of roles could consider formalizing or reviewing a policy allowing certain employees the ability to work from home.
  • Travel policies. Some employees travel for work. If that’s the case, employers can implement policies which can limit travel to locations which are designated health risks. Employers can also request a quarantine or encourage testing if travel has occurred in such a region.

It’s a sound risk management strategy for employers to be prepared to handle a widespread illness or medical outbreak through cultural norms and workplace policies. Organizations would also be well-served by staying up-to-date on the latest information. You can do that by leveraging the CDC website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) serves as the nation’s health protection agency.  They have a team of experts specifically focused on COVID-19 and have a number of resources available to employers to help manage the response to this virus. We encourage you to visit their COVID-19 specific web page for the latest information and employer resources as you consider your response.

Key Takeaway

The emergence and spread of a virus such as the current Coronavirus can be a cause for concern for employers and the public. However, sound policies and practices can help your organization and employees better understand how to best prevent the spread of such viruses. Employers would be well-served by reviewing their workplace policies and procedures and visiting the CDC website for the latest information on the virus. If you have specific questions about your organization’s needs, contact your M3 account team.

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