• Lina Bil

COVID-19 Back-to-Work Checklist

Here are key issues employers need to understand and start preparing for now.

1. Workplace safety. Employers have to ensure that their workplaces are as safe as they can be. Employees and customers alike may have fears of returning to business as usual; preparing for and communicating how safety is a top priority will allay fears and increase brand loyalty.

Safety measures might include:

· Considering employee health screening procedures.

· Developing an exposure-response plan that addresses:

o Isolation, containment and contact tracking procedures.

o Stay-at-home requirements.

o Exposure communications to affected staff.

· Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as:

o Masks, gloves, face shields, etc.

o Personal hand sanitizer.

· Detailing cleaning procedures and procuring ongoing supplies.

· Establishing physical distancing measures within the workplace:

o Staggered shifts and lunch/rest breaks.

o Rotating weeks in the office and working remotely.

o Moving workstations to increase separation distance.

· Restricting business travel:

o Start with essential travel only and define what that is.

o Follow government guidance to ease restrictions over time.

· Defining customer and/or visitor contact protocols such as:

o Directing customer traffic through the stores.

o Limiting the number of customers in any area at one time.

o No handshake greetings; remain 3-6 ft. apart.

o Using video or telephone conferencing instead of in-person meetings (head office).

· Understanding and complying with Occupational Health and Safety Tips and record-keeping reporting obligations.

2. Recall procedures. Plan for how and when employees will return to work or to the worksite to create an organized approach.

Things to consider include:

· Phasing-in employees returning to work:

o Evaluate approach based on the Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

o Employment Standards Legislation varying by province.

· Creating a plan for employees in high-risk categories for infection to return to work:

o Consider allowing them to remain on leave until they feel comfortable to return.

o Determine increased measures to protect them when working onsite, including additional PPE as requested, fewer days at work, etc.

· Determining how to handle employees who are unable or unwilling to return to work.

o Employees who are fearful of returning to work or refusing unsafe work.

o Employees who have family obligations that interfere with the ability to return to work.

o Employees who remain under quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19.

3. Employee benefits. Whether employees remained on the employer’s benefits plans or not, certain notices or actions may be required to stay compliant. Communicating these changes to employees should be done as soon as possible.

Review such issues as:

· Group health insurance.

o Eligibility - redetermine waiting-period issues due to leave or reinstatement; review any revised eligibility requirements during the temporary layoff and determine if those changes will be revoked and when.

· Flexible spending accounts.

o Address plan options and allowable changes with employees.

· Unpaid protected leaves (by province).

4. Compensation. Employers may have made some compensation changes during the crisis thus far. How the disruption will affect compensation policies and sales targets going forward will also need reviewing and communicating to affected staff.

Things to address include:

· Will employees be brought back at 100% of their historical wages?

· Will hazard pay be offered?

5. Remote work for the office team. Telecommuting is proving to work well during the pandemic for some positions.

Actions to consider include:

· Continuing to allow remote work where possible to keep employees safe.

· Staggering weeks in office and at home among team members, or part-time remote work on alternate weekdays.

· Responding to employee requests to continue to work from home, including long-term arrangements.

· Updating technology to support virtual workers.

· Consider the long-term cost savings or impact of offering permanent remote work.

6. Communications. Establishing a clear communication plan will allow employees and customers to understand how the organization plans to reopen or reestablish business processes.

Topics to cover may include:

· Detail what training on new workplace safety and disinfection protocols have been implemented.

· Have exposure-response communications ready to go to any affected employees and customers.

· Have media communications ready to release on topics such as return-to-work timetables, safety protections in place, and how else the company is supporting workers and customers. Prepare to respond to the media for workplace exposures.

7. Employee reinstatement letters. All employees returning to work from temporary lay-offs or reduced compensation, will need to receive communications in regard to their reinstatement. Furthermore, employers will need to communicate store opening dates and new schedules.

8. Policy changes. It is no longer business as usual, and employers will likely need to update or create policies to reflect the new normal. Some examples include:

· Unpaid leave policies adjusted to reflect regulatory requirements and actual business needs.

· Attendance policies relaxed to encourage sick employees to stay home.

· Time-off request procedures clarified to indicate when time off can be required by the employer, should sick employees need to be sent home.

· Meal and rest break policies adjusted to stagger times and processes implemented to encourage physical distancing.

· Travel policies updated to reflect essential versus nonessential travel and the impact of domestic or global travel restrictions.

· Telecommuting policies detailed to reflect the type of work that is able to be done remotely and the procedures for requesting telework.

· Information technology policies revised to reflect remote work hardware, software and support.

9. Business continuity plan. Paris Jewellers is planning for various scenarios and phases of returning to normal operations.

· Implement a business continuity plan.

· Establish a pandemic task force to continuously monitor external and internal data and implement appropriate protocols. Recognize the possibility of additional closings during this current pandemic as COVID-19 infections may rise and fall again, triggering more stay-at-home orders and supply chain disruptions.

Don't panic! Call HR for help..

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