The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues with many countries reporting new cases as they reopen for business. Unless you’re based in Antarctica nowhere is safe from COVID-19 and companies who want their staff in the office as opposed to remote-working at home, need to ensure their environment and places of work are conducive to meeting the health and safety recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus.
During the lockdowns, Governments were busy creating information and guidelines for preparing workplaces. The challenge for business owners is deciphering the meaning and actual obligations of instructions such as this 31-page guide by OSHA.
Canada has produced this guide for mitigating the risks of spreading coronavirus, including suggestions that workers wear non-medical face masks. Employees who are worried that they might contract the virus do have rights according to this COVID-19 Employment Law FAQ.
In this workplace guide, there are recommendations for health and safety procedures and controls to ensure the following is carried out regularly.
- Removal of hazards
- Daily health checks
- Sanitation supplies provided
- Social distancing
- COVID-19 communication
The approaches taken by employers will need to directly supervise a safe workplace and keep social distancing between employees. Preparing the workplace for worker wellbeing is paramount, starting with removing hazards, and improving the layout to allow for the two-meter social distancing. Maintaining a sanitized and clean environment is controlled with regular disinfecting of surfaces, and providing PPE and hand sanitizer. For worker peace of mind, so they feel confident returning to work will not endanger their health, conducting daily health checks, i.e. temperature checks, tracking and tracing and Coronavirus testing when required.
Rights to Sick Leave
Workers taking sick leave used to be a tough call, insofar as the company culture discouraged it. Colleagues would feel guilty for taking a sick day; however, all businesses have gone through a paradigm shift to comply with the health and safety needs of their staff following Government expectations. If you are feeling ill, or you have a high temperature, you are not allowed in the workplace.
Furthermore, if a family member is sick, the employee should be allowed to take time off to look after them. Never before have sick leave terms been so favorable to employees, and not all companies will act to change their sick-leave policies. There are many reasons why a worker may not go into the workplace, and employers need to understand they need to work within the recommended guidelines for employee care as a result of the pandemic.
Here is a list of reasons why a worker may stay away from the workplace include.
- Feeling sick
- Have a high temperature
- Daycare or schools closed, so children are at home
- Sick family
- Tested positive for Coronavirus
COVID-19 Business Challenges Go Beyond The Workplace
There are more wage and employment-related challenges for the self-employed, employers and employees with the pandemic including:
- Employee rights to an income when self-isolating etc
- Sickness benefits
- Wages relief
Get Help From Trusted Professionals
Go easy on yourself if your business has made an error or two handling the pandemic. No company will get everything right the first time, there is no precedent to fall back on. Business owners and managers are experiencing unforeseen events in their business, and they are doing the best they can to keep the company afloat. Therefore tolerance is needed and also seeking assistance from trained professionals to lighten the load and improve how mistakes are remedied with the least discomfort to all parties concerned.
Needless to say, it has been a tough few months for the entire world, and we’ve been under tremendous stress. Therefore acting smarter is paramount. Know your rights and use best practices to get you through the pandemic and out to the other side.