Employee health and safety
Employee health and safety is a top concern during a public health crisis. You can help employees stay safe by:
Instituting basic infection prevention measures.
- The US Department of Labor issued guidance on Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA)-compliant prevention measures that can be downloaded here.
- Consider how employees might be exposed to COVID-19, either at home or at work, and take steps to mitigate their risk.
- If employees have a sick family member at home, they should inform their supervisor and refer to CDC guidelines.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should let coworkers know, but take care to maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Employees exposed to a sick coworker should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
Encouraging supportive sick leave policies
- Don’t make it difficult for sick employees to stay home. The CDC recommends maintaining flexible policies that allow employees to stay home when they are sick, even without a doctor’s note or positive test, and to stay home to care for sick relatives.
- Make sure your HR policies are aligned with state and local guidance.
Offering telemedicine and EAP for employees
- Telemedicine is one of the easiest ways to help ease the burden on our healthcare system while getting employees the healthcare they need during a pandemic. It keeps employees from exposing themselves to the virus for routine medical care.
- Up to 80 percent of COVID-19 cases may be mild enough for at-home treatment with assistance from a telemedicine provider.
- The CDC recommends that employees use Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) for mental and emotional support. Your EAP may also provide assistance coping with and managing the death of loved ones, which may be necessary during the pandemic.
- Offer these resources if you don’t already. They’ve never been more essential.
- Telemedicine and EAP are typically underutilized and difficult to find. Improve benefits communications so employees know where to find these resources. Check out our Employee Benefits Communication Guide for tips.
Understanding Health Coverage and Coronavirus Treatment
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FCRA) requires group health plans to cover COVID-19 screenings, but not treatment. Many insurance providers have also pledged to cover the cost of treatment. Read more from the Department of Labor.
- Free COVID-19 testing and treatment won’t jeopardize the status of HDHP’s, according to IRS Notice 2020-15. You can assure employees who receive these services that their HDHP’s are still HSA-eligible. Read more about telemedicine, HDHP’s, and HSA’s in this post.
- FFCRA requires employees to receive (1) two weeks of paid leave for their own COVID-19 recovery and (2) two weeks leave paid at two-thirds in order to care for family members with the illness.
“We understand the exceptional pressure that all business and HR leaders are experiencing at this time. While this virus is running its course and continues to be a looming unknown for the coming months, we want to remind you that HealthJoy is here for you, your employees, and their families…”
Read more about how HealthJoy is responding to COVID-19>>
If you don’t already have a documented infectious disease policy, it’s not too late. Developing an infectious disease policy can still help you keep workers safe, and could be important for transitioning back to business-as-usual once restrictions ease.
A few points the Department of Labor recommends including in your infectious disease policy:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
- Post handwashing signs, provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, follow OSHA guidance for Personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Assess your essential functions, including whether you need to change business practices, adjust your supply change, or make changes to the way you work with contracted or temporary employees.
- Document a policy for returning to work. The CDC recommends guidelines here, which may change as the pandemic progresses.
The CDC lists general business recommendations and specific recommendations for essential businesses on its business page..
- Cancel non-essential travel.
- Document a policy for employee personal travel.
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel.
- The CDC recommends that everyone practice social distancing, maintaining a gap of at least six feet between yourself and the closest person.
- In the workplace, this may require changing the physical layout or the way employees work. For example:
- Teleworking, staggering worksites and shifts, increasing the physical distance between employees on a worksite, postponing nonessential travel, and delivering through curbside pickup and delivery are all recommended procedures.
- CDC recommendations now include the use of cloth face masks whenever social distancing is difficult, for example, in a store where a six-foot distance is difficult.
Cleaning the workplace
- Perform routine office cleaning:
- Clean dirty surfaces before disinfecting
- Use EPA-registered household disinfectants
- Provide disposable wipes for common surfaces
- If an employee gets sick with COVID-19, follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
Visit OSHA’s complete guide for other industry-specific considerations, including exposure risk and guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment.
healthjoy covid-19 resources
Ten Ways to Boost Employee Morale At Your Company »
How to Maintain Company Culture with Remote Workers »
How HealthJoy is Responding to COVID-19 »
Introducing HealthJoy QuickLaunch »
Develop and document a remote work policy
- Be explicit with recommendations including working hours, communication standards, software, and tracking progress.
- Give employees the equipment and technology they need to safely work from home.
- Consider flexible accommodations for employees dealing with children after the closure of K-12 schools.
Small business loan relief
- The Small Business Administration’s guide includes helpful information about coronavirus relief for small businesses.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act, which contains $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses.
- The CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak
- Paycheck Protection Program: The paycheck protection program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program
- EIDL Loan Advance: Up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses experiencing temporary difficulties
- SBA Express Bridge Loans: Businesses who currently have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender can access up to $25,000.
- SBA Debt Relief: Financial reprieves for small businesses during the pandemic
helpful covid-19 resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Resources for Businesses and Employers»
SHRM: Coronavirus and COVID-19 »
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission»
U.S. Department of Labor »
Occupational Safety and Health Administration »
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