Sometimes, despite a person’s best efforts to protect themselves from exposure, your employee may fall ill due to COVID-19. As an employer or someone from the executive level of your company, you need to act fast to ensure the safety of other employees and comply with all the applicable laws at the same time. In today’s article, we will list out step by step what employers should do when their employees have COVID-19 infection.
When your staff is infected with COVID-19, the situation first calls for sensitivity and humanity. Expressing some sympathy when the employee brings you the news is necessary. Even if the person’s symptoms are mild, they are likely very anxious about what might happen with their job or whether they have spread the virus to their beloved ones.
As you talk to the employees who have COVID-19 infection, clearly communicate that they can count on their team and the company to be supported. You might say, for example: ‘I know that this is a horrible thing to deal with. Your team and I will always be here for you if you need to talk. I definitely understand that you might not be able to work for a while. Please don’t worry about that. The company totally understands what you are going through’.
After talking to the employee, you need to ask them a specific list of which coworkers they have been in close contact with within the past two weeks. COVID-19 is so scary in the sense that it is transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks. Therefore, you need to be really fast to minimize the risk of spreading the disease.
Ensure The Confidentiality
The most important part of the employee COVID-19 protection plan is to contact HR. At this point, most HR departments should have some protocols in hand to deal with this situation. Hence, you will want to notify them and utilize their guidance.
The HR department will alert those who have been in close contact with the employee as soon as possible and direct them to their own doctors. Since this is a sensitive topic, it is important to alert the coworkers by video or phone. However, time matters here. If the list of close contact is too long, emailing them with the ‘important action required’ heading is also a great idea.
The message should be very clear in regards to what the employees should do but have to keep confidentiality. We suggest the message to be as follows: ‘Someone from our company is infected with COVID-19 and they identified you as a close contact. Please be careful and stay safe!. Find a place to self-isolate in the next two weeks, monitor yourself for any symptoms, and talk to your doctors’.
Clean The Workspace
Employers should clean and sanitize the workspaces and common areas that were used by the infected employee in the days prior to diagnosis. Below are the steps to identify what and where to clean:
- Determine what needs to be cleaned – public spaces with high occupancy need to be cleaned twice a day. Areas unoccupied for 7 or more days only need routine cleaning.
- Determine how areas will be disinfected – consider the type of surface and how often the surface is touched to prioritize disinfecting frequently touched areas
- Consider the resources and equipment needed – keep in mind the availability of cleaning products and personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate for cleaners and disinfectants.
Employers should consider giving the COVID-19 infection employee sick leave. Sick leave is another name for paid sick days or sick pay. It is paid time off from work that workers can stay home to address their health needs without losing pay. Sick leave is specifically intended for health-related purposes.
Under normal circumstances, this policy will not be given easily to employees, unless they have serious health issues that involve surgery or being hospitalized. However, during COVID-19, this will not only help the infected employee but also protect the communities. Hence, sick leave should be given inconsiderately to the employee during a two-week quarantine period or more, if they have serious symptoms that require special care.
After this article, we hope it is helpful for employers who have infected employees in their company. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions!