The following article was originally posted on the Applied Systems blog.
All employers should implement policies to protect their workforce from infectious diseases while ensuring continuity of operations. The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak can be particularly severe for organizations lacking adequate policies and plans.
Use this checklist to help you create essential policies, procedures and strategies to deal with COVID-19.
- Update or create general business crisis management and business continuity plans immediately.
- Review human resources policies to make sure policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and are consistent with existing state and federal workplace laws.
- Create a specific COVID-19 response plan. A suggested starting point may be to review and adopt portions of other emergency response plans (e.g., natural disaster plan). Once the plan is refined and ready for implementation, it should be communicated to all employees.
- Establish policies for employee compensation and sick leave absences unique to the pandemic (e.g., nonpunitive, liberal leave), including policies on when a previously ill person is no longer infectious and can return to work after illness.
- Establish policies for flexible worksite (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts).
- Establish policies for preventing viral spread at the worksite (e.g., promoting respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette and prompt exclusion of people with symptoms related to the outbreak).
- Establish policies for employees who have been exposed to COVID-19, are suspected to be ill, or become ill at the worksite (e.g., infection control response, immediate mandatory sick leave).
- Establish policies for restricting travel to affected geographic areas (consider both domestic and international sites), evacuating employees working in or near affected areas, and guidance for employees returning from affected areas (refer to CDC travel recommendations).
- Develop a communication plan to keep employees up-to-date on the status of the virus. Ensure employees know what the communication plan is.
- Set up triggers and procedures for activating and terminating the company’s response plan, altering business operations (e.g., shutting down operations in affected areas), and communicating necessary business knowledge to key employees.