From supply chain disruptions to shrinking demand, business owners have to contend with a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. But often the most stressful task is protecting employees from exposure while keeping your business running. Fear of an office outbreak is causing plenty of sleepless nights for business and HR leaders alike.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve written a lot about how to protect your employees and your business from the effects of COVID-19. But one issue that we have not covered in detail is what to do when the worst happens and one of your employees tests positive for the highly-contagious virus.
So we’ve created a handy checklist for employers to use to structure their response. The checklist contains all the essential steps for protecting the rest of your team from exposure, looking after the employee’s wellbeing, and managing their transition back to the workplace.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues this checklist will help you tackle:
Working with the Affected Employee
Before you can work with the employee to determine next-steps, you need to identify that they have or are caring for someone with coronavirus. So, it’s important to regularly emphasize how crucial it is that employees who think that they or a loved one has COVID-19 notify you as soon as possible.
Once they do tell you that they have been exposed or infected, you should find out from them who they have worked closely with in the past two weeks. Getting this information can help you prevent a widespread outbreak by putting extra protection measures in place for high-risk employees. Next, you should plan the next steps for the employee by either setting them up to work remotely or helping them file for relief through the Family Medical Leave Act.
Updating the Rest of the Team
No one wants to find out that their company has been hiding the fact that a coworker has COVID-19. It’s important for your employees’ safety and your reputation as an employer that you notify your entire team that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, is thought to have the virus, or is caring for someone with the virus. Just remember to maintain the required amount of confidentiality to protect the affected employee.
Next, reemphasize the importance of following proper procedures in the workplace as it is especially important in the days after an employee has tested positive. Conduct training or share resources to help employees reduce their risk of exposure. And notify any other tenants in your building, if applicable, so that they can manage their response.
Maintaining a Safe Workplace
When it looks like an infected employee may have entered your place of business, be it an office or a manufacturing facility, you have to take immediate action to disinfect the area. While employees should be particularly careful once you notify them of the risk, you still have your own responsibilities to minimize that risk. Clean common areas and the employee’s workspace thoroughly.
Planning the Employee’s Return to Work
Whether the infected employee has been working from home or taking a leave of absence, it’s important to know when it is safe for them to come back to work as normal. The downloadable checklist below lays out different standards depending on whether or not the employee will be tested to confirm that they are no longer contagious. But both cases depend on how long it has been since an employee’s symptoms appeared and how long it has been since they subsided. As a general rule of thumb, they should be asymptomatic for at least three days and have first shown symptoms more than a week ago for it to be safe for them to return to work.
Download the Checklist
We’ve gone over the general best-practices for when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and given you some concrete steps to take. But the checklist will give you an in-depth step-by-step reference to guide on how to handle when one of your employees has COVID-19. Download it for free right now!