Companies Need Employees to be More Informed of COVID-19 Effects on Work

Many companies in northern California should have COVID-19 precautions in place by now with safety guidelines for their employees to follow. But it’s not enough. It will never be enough as the virus still poses a serious threat to people’s lives. It continues to wreak havoc and for this reason, employers need to have rolling updates on their company site, as some big companies have already done. 

One example that matters for globally run companies is business travel. As of June 20, expats and other professionals from the following countries are prohibited from entry to the United States. These include China, Iran, the European Schengen area  (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City), the United Kingdom  (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and Brazil. 

This means global mobility professionals need to make sure that they are following these established restrictions, and if they need to know more, so they can then pass on information to assignees from these countries. 

People have admitted to suffering pandemic fatigue that they have started avoiding the news altogether. Which makes global mobility work even more vital in these times when people are less inclined to know what’s happening around them for their mental health. 

However, reports say citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States, certain family members, and other individuals who meet specified exceptions, who have been in one of the countries listed above in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States through one of 15 airports.

After arriving in the United States from one of these countries, travelers are then advised to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days. More information about what to do after arriving in the United States is available on CDC’s Returning from International Travel webpage.

Providing education and training materials in an easy to understand format and in the appropriate language and literacy level for all employees, like fact sheets and posters, is critical, especially when many people are putting their guard down.

To help companies think of creative ways to communicate their policies in their own fight against COVID-19, here are some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

• Have conversations with employees about their concerns. Some employees may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults () and those with chronic medical conditions. 

• Develop other flexible policies for scheduling and telework (if feasible) and create leave policies to allow employees to stay home to care for sick family members or care for children if schools and childcare close. 

• Perform routine environmental cleaning. Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, handrails, and doorknobs. Discourage sharing of tools and equipment, if feasible. 

• Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about their plans. Discuss the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. 

• Plan to implement practices to minimize face-to-face contact between employees if social distancing is recommended by your state or local health department. Actively encourage flexible work arrangements such as teleworking or staggered shifts. 

• Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisals, and ensure employees are aware of these policies. 

• Consider the need for travel and explore alternatives. Check CDC’s Travelers’ Health for the latest guidance and recommendations. Consider using teleconferencing and video conferencing for meetings, when possible. 

• Promote etiquette for coughing and sneezing and handwashing. Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, soap and water, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 

• If an employee becomes sick while at work, they should be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home immediately. Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting areas the sick employee visited. 

Beyond the interim guidelines, companies will need to dig deeper and review their overall human resource policies and how they affect business operations.

The important thing is to share response plans with employees and clearly communicate expectations. It is important to let employees know plans and expectations if COVID-19 occurs in communities where you have a workplace.