2020-03-02 HR Examiner article Heather Bussing Employers Coronavirus checklist photo img cc0 by hello i m nik N75enfbn82c unsplash 544x364px.jpg
Here’s a quick checklist for HR and employers planning for employee exposure and illness from the coronavirus. It’s essential to review your policies and resources and make sure you are prepared if people need to stay home, the company has to close for some time, or one of your employees or their families becomes ill.

  1. Your employees’ health and safety is the most important thing. All policies should promote health and safety and get employees access to information and resources.
  2. Any laws that may apply are the bare minimum required. Take a larger view of the interests of the business and your employees and don’t just apply minimums.
  3. Check leave policies, paid sick leave laws in every place you have employees, short and long term disability coverage, workers’ compensation coverage, and state resources such as disability benefits, FMLA and state family leave requirements. Understand how each applies to quarantine, forced leave, and long illness.
  4. Know who gets paid when the office is closed or people should not be working. Often exempt employees get paid but non-exempt employees don’t. Your lower wage and hourly employees are often not capable of surviving without working and will feel the need to come to work even if they are sick. Play it safe. Consider paying everyone for forced leave and let them know in advance so sick people stay home.
  5. Be aware of the potential for discrimination based on race and national origin. Assumptions that people of Asian heritage are more infectious or dangerous is a race based assumption and stereotype. Do not tolerate discrimination even if people are scared.
  6. Start planning now for people who need leave or need to work remote because schools close, the office closes, or someone in their family is ill and they cannot leave because they might infect others. Plan now so you can do what you can to help people work where they need to work.
  7. Do not make any new policies without talking to your friendly employment lawyer. There will be unusual situations and having guidance is essential.
  8. Respect privacy and confidentiality of medical information. People are scared, the rumors will fly. Inform people of risks, but never reveal private information, especially medical information.
  9. Stay informed and offer resources. Check for updated information for each location you have employees. The CDC, State websites, and news offer information. Look for credible sources. Set up a resource page on your employee portal for employees to get information about leave, benefits, new policies.
  10. And everybody, please wash your hands.