Planning for COVID-19: Ensuring your Business is Prepared for any Circumstance
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has officially made its way to the United States and to our state of Florida.
As of Monday, March 9th, 2020 – nineteen FL residents have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a state of emergency declaration as a result of growing concerns of the virus’ spread; a way to begin assisting the state of FL with preparations for a swift response.
Just as FL officials are preparing for any outcome, most businesses are revisiting and reviewing their response plans, should the normal flow of business be disrupted.
The following resources and strategies have been designed and curated to serve as a master list of recommended action employers should take should widespread community outbreaks occur.
Actions to Take Now
When an employee is sick or exhibiting symptoms:
1.) If an employee appears sick, (specifically exhibiting “acute respiratory illness symptoms” i.e. coughing, shortness of breath) when at work, separate them from other employees immediately and send home. (Can I force an employee to go home? See Foley Lardner under Resources below.)
2.) Encourage employees to communicate openly with management regarding whether or not they feel the need to take sick leave or work from home.
Practice good hygiene in the workplace:
1.) Encourage employees and visitors to wash hands thoroughly and frequently. Make these practices mandatory – especially if workforce interacts with the general public.
You can visit FloridaHealth.gov’s Toolkit page with a variety of flyers available for use in public areas.
2.) Set up hand sanitizing stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain 60-95% alcohol content and tissue boxes along high traffic areas or communal workspaces.
3.) Set up daily cleaning schedules, if not already in place, to wipe down areas that are frequently used (lunch tables, work surfaces) with disinfectant solutions.
If your employees plan on traveling, recently traveled or have family visiting from abroad:
2.) Maintain open communication with employees regarding safety practices when traveling.
Should an outbreak occur...
Which is exactly why every employer/business should have a plan (or specific contingency plans) in place for their workforce so that daily operations experience minimal disruption.
Are you prepared for absences?
◦ Ensure that personnel understand leave policies.
◦ Have coverage available for essential departments/employees, should staff be absent.
◦ Pay attention to advisories from state and local officials regarding closures and recommendations.
When creating an "Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan":
◦ Consider increasing the flexibility in sick leave or work-from-home policies and plan according to several possible outcomes.