It’s time for HR departments to reevaluate the policies and systems that are in place, make crucial amendments, and better plan for the future’s unpredictable events.
Workplace guidelines have become a necessary shift that businesses have had to make. COVID-19 provided a sudden upheaval for many small businesses and large corporations alike. In the wake of those disruptions, HR teams can now assess existing policies and previous liabilities to make strides in planning for unknown future events. When it comes to COVID-19 workplace guidelines, here’s what your HR team needs to know.
Workplace safety assessment
COVID-19 created new hurdles for HR in regards to workplace safety. Not only were HR teams having to tackle creating amendments to sick leave policy, they also had to learn and implement a new protocol for how to best set up workspaces for employees. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined a detailed guide on how to best implement COVID-19 workplace guidelines. We encourage your HR team to review the material, but in the meantime, here are the highlights:
- Ensure that your HR team strictly uses disinfectants from the approved list by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has compiled this list using the latest research on which cleaners best combat the spread of COVID-19.
- Screen employees upon entering the building. This ensures that you test both symptomatic and asymptomatic employees. Doing so helps to increase the safety of all individuals in your workplace.
- HR teams will need to be knowledgeable about the costs and coverage of COVID-19 tests for employees. Creating a policy regarding test availability is crucial for COVID-19 workplace guidelines. You can minimize liability with careful planning and making sure that employees clearly understand the testing policy. CDC covers testing guidelines clearly in a recent statement.
Make sure you draw up and present new policies and procedures to your employees. You should mandate that employees sign off that they received and understood the new documents.
COVID-19 may have made some of your business’ HR documents redundant. Make sure you draw up and present new policies and procedures to your employees. You should mandate that employees sign off that they received and understood the new documents. In addition to having new safety and sick leave documents, we recommend getting the following forms and posters in order as well.
- This COVID-19 checklist for employers is a valuable tool to have. Going along with the CDC guidelines will allow your HR team to understand and be accountable for aligning changes with current recommendations.
- You should post cleaning guidelines publicly and often for employees to refer to. Employees should be familiar with cleaning protocol and the location of cleaning supplies.
- The CDC has forms like these and many more in their free Resuming Business Toolkit.
Workplace incident reporting
It is vital that HR teams take into consideration what the CDC refers to as Health Equity Considerations in reference to COVID-19.
CDC shares that recent data has shown “Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”
In moving forward with new workplace policies, it’s important that HR teams review and take into consideration those employees that are at higher risk of becoming ill or being marginalized.
In moving forward with new workplace policies, it’s important that HR teams review and take into consideration those employees that are at higher risk of becoming ill or being marginalized. Now that sick leave falls under workplace incident reporting, employers need to set in place a reporting process that is nearly effortless. Employees should be afforded equality throughout the steps of incident reporting.
Employers may be encouraged to have on-site testing for employees in light of Health Equity Considerations.
Specific plan of action
Each business is different and requires specific plans of action to be in place. Those that are in a workplace environment where social distancing is impossible — such as manufacturing — would need different guidelines than those that are able to work remotely. The CDC has outlined various careers that may face unconventional challenges during COVID-19. Here are a few that are mentioned — we encourage you to review the full list:
- Correctional facilities
- Retirement homes
- Law enforcement
Check the CDC often for updated protocols and best practices. It is important to remain vigilant in checking your employer’s insurance policies and convey any new information to employees.
Assessing your HR department’s readiness to serve employees should be a priority. If your employees have not returned to work yet, now is the opportune time to reevaluate the systems that are in place and make amendments. It goes without saying that your COVID-19 workplace guidelines should include those employees that fall within minority groups. It is still important to pay careful attention to those demographics as you move forward in outlining the new protocol.
It’s crucial to remind your employees that although things are different, your HR team is readily available to support them during uncertain times.
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