With the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe and 100+ confirmed cases with an unfortunate 6 deaths in the United States, employers who haven’t already developed an Infectious and Communicable Disease policy in response to diseases such as the flu should be developing a policy and responsiveness plan.
An effective preparedness plan would include how to keep their employees informed and safeguarded (to the extent possible), while managing continuous business operations as well as interactions with the public and supply chain. Employers may want to look at their disaster preparedness plan which would provide considerations for maintaining staffing and business relationships with limited or no access to facilities. Like any policy development, employers should bring together a team with members from each level of the organization to ensure that all group considerations are being taken into effect.
Also, employers need to be strategic and recognize that COVID-19 is a communicable disease and that their policy should be written to ensure a comprehensive approach.
For example, do you know that the flu is far more rampant and deadlier than COVID-19?
Across the globe and since late 2019, COVID-19 statistics show that there are reported 92, 700+ cases with 3,100 deaths and recovery of 48,400 people.
In the U. S., the Center for Disease Control estimates that during the 2019-2020 flu season there have been at least 32 million flu illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths.
Many employees come to work sick with coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, and watery eyes when PTO is exhausted or work loads demand responsiveness. The cold or flu (which are both contagious) quickly spread around the office, yet many employers do not have a policy in response to employees coming to work sick.
The CDC has shared that the health risk in the U.S. is a “low risk of exposure” at this time for the general public. Employers with employees who travel to international locations that are affected are at an elevated risk. Also those who work in health care and anyone who has had close contact with persons affected with COVID- 19 have higher risk. Employer policies should take into consideration the chance for risk and exposure of the employees, considering potential exposure from family members.
There are published guidelines from the CDC for considerations when developing a policy to respond to COVID-19. In conjunction with the CDC, employers may also look to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for additional resources on policy considerations when developing their policy.
Please also contact your Benefit Advisor for services that are available to assist you in developing a responsive Infectious and Communicable Disease policy.
Bobbi Kloss Director, Human Capital Management
With more than 20 years of Human Resource Generalist & Executive Level HCM Management experience, Kloss serves as the Director for the Human Capital Management Department for Benefit Advisors Network (BAN). With a deep understanding of the increasingly complex and diverse HR industry, Kloss provides her expertise to BAN's employee benefit brokerage members as well as their employer clients. She oversees all HR-related functions for the association, initiating pro-active, strategic compliance practices, which limits exposure in all areas of potential liability for BAN members and their clients.