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Ensure Healthy Business Operations during Covid-19

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of Covid-19 within the workplace while keeping their business operations up and running.

Plan, prepare and respond to the coronavirus disease by following these strategies and recommendations outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Implement flexible sick leave rules

Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.

  • Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures. Additional flexibilities might include giving advances on future sick leave and allowing employees to donate sick leave to each other.

  • Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees should consider drafting non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies.

  • Employers should not require a Covid-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.

  • Review human resources policies to make sure that your policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and with existing state and federal workplace laws.

  • Connect employees to employee assistance program (EAP) resources, if available, and community resources as needed. Employees may need additional social, behavioral, and other services, for example, to help them manage stress.

Protect employees at higher risk for severe illness

Implement supportive policies and practices for older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions and/or are at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19.

  • Consider offering vulnerable workers duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees (e.g., restocking shelves rather than working as a cashier), if the worker agrees to this.

  • Offer flexible options such as work from home to employees. This will eliminate the need for employees living in higher transmission areas to travel to workplaces in lower transmission areas and vice versa.

  • Ensure that any other businesses and employers sharing the same workspace also follow this guidance.

Communicate supportive workplace polices

Inform employees about supportive workplace policies clearly, frequently, and via multiple methods.

  • Train workers on how implementing any new policies to reduce the spread of Covid-19 may affect existing health and safety practices.

  • Communicate to any contractors or on-site visitors about changes that have been made to help control the spread of Covid-19.

  • Create and test communication systems that employees can use to self-report if they are sick and that you can use to notify employees of exposures and closures.

  • Consider using a hotline or another method for employees to voice concerns anonymously.

Prepare to manage employee absence

Business operations may be affected by an increase in sick employees, as well as those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children until childcare programs and schools resume.

  • Plan to monitor and respond to increased employee absence at the workplace.

  • Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher-than-usual sick leave from workers.

  • Cross-train employees to perform essential functions so the workplace can operate even if key employees are absent.

Establish policies and practices for social distancing

Alter your workspace to help workers and customers maintain social distancing and physically separate employees from each other and from customers, when possible. Here are some strategies that businesses can use:

  • Implement flexible worksites (e.g., work from home) and flexible work hours.

  • Increase physical space between employees at the worksite by modifying the workspace, as well as between employees and customers (e.g., drive-through service, physical barriers such as partitions).

  • Ensure there is hand sanitizer and face masks available for employees and anyone else entering the office space.

  • Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart, to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible.

  • Implement flexible meeting and travel options.

  • Close or limit access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate and interact.

  • Prohibit handshaking.

  • Adjust your business practices to reduce close contact with customers — for example, by providing drive-through service, click-and-collect online shopping, shop-by-phone, curbside pickup, and delivery options, where feasible.

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