Coronavirus: Best Practices Plans and Documentation

Coronavirus: Best Practices Plans and Documentation

If you are a business owner looking for guidance to project your employees, your customers yourself and your business itself from this of coronavirus (both the health risk and the business liabilities) the resources on this page and those linked to below will be helpful.

Expectations, Plans and Documentation for Businesses in Responding to COVID-19

Obviously, the first steps are:

  1. Check your state's health department website for COVID-19 guidance, requirements and rules. See this page for your state's public health department
  2. Check with your business lawyer for his recommendations
  3. follow best practices as described by your state, the CDC, FDA and OSHA, as outlined in these pages.

The CDC says that all employers should implement and update as necessary a plan that:

  • Is specific to your workplace,
  • Identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to SARS-CoV-2, and
  • Includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures.

Talk with your employees about planned changes and seek their input. Additionally, collaborate with employees and unions to effectively communicate important COVID-19 information.

See the OSHA COVID-19 guidance for more information on how to protect workers from potential exposures, according to their exposure risk. Plans should consider that employees may be able to spread COVID-19 even if they do not show symptoms.

All employers need to consider how best to decrease the spread of SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and lower the impact in your workplace. This should include activities to:

  • prevent and reduce transmission among employees,
  • maintain healthy business operations, and
  • maintain a healthy work environment.

Administrative

Screening

Management and Communications

  • Monitor state and local public health communications about COVID-19
  • Encourage sick workers to report symptoms, stay home, and follow CDC guidance
  • Develop strategies to:
    • manage worker concerns
    • communicate with workers
  • Remind workers of available support services
  • Communicate to partners, suppliers, other contractors on policies and practices
  • Encourage social distancing and the use of masks (if appropriate) in the workplace
  • Use technology to promote social distancing (e.g., telework and virtual meetings)
  • Cancel group events
  • Close/limit use of shared spaces
  • Ask customers who are ill to stay home
  • Consider policies that encourage flexible sick leave and alternative work schedules.
  • Schedule stocking during off-peak hours
  • Maintain a tobacco-free workplace

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, (e.g., counters, shelving, displays)
  • Provide employees with disposable disinfectant wipes, cleaner, or sprays that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19

Training
Provide employees with training on:

Maintain Healthy Business Operations

Identify a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact at the workplace.

Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices

  • Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible, non-punitive, and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
  • Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures. Additional flexibilities might include giving advances on future sick leave and allowing employees to donate sick leave to each other.
  • Some workers may be eligible to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act .
  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for 100% tax credits for Families First Coronavirus Response Act COVID-19 paid leave provided through March 31, 2021, up to certain limits.
  • Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees should consider drafting non-punitive "emergency sick leave" policies.
  • Employers should not require a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider's note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.
  • Review human resources policies to make sure that your policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and with existing state and federal workplace laws (for more information on employer responsibilities, visit the Department of Labor's and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's websites).
  • Connect employees to employee assistance program (EAP) resources, if available, and community resources as needed. Employees may need additional social, behavioral, and other services, for example, to help them manage stress and cope.

Protect employees at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices

Older adults and people of any age who have certain underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

  • Support and encourage options to telework, if available. This will eliminate the need for employees living in higher transmission areas to travel to workplaces in lower transmission areas and vice versa.
  • Consider offering employees at higher risk for severe illness duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees (e.g., restocking shelves rather than working as a cashier), if the worker agrees to this.
  • Ensure that any other businesses and employers sharing the same workspace also follow this guidance.

Communicate supportive workplace polices clearly, frequently, and via multiple methods

Employers may need to communicate with non-English speakers in their preferred languages.

  • Train workers on how implementing any new policies to reduce the spread of SARS CoV-2 may affect existing health and safety practices.
  • Communicate to any contractors or on-site visitors about changes that have been made to help control the spread of SARS CoV-2. Ensure that they have the information and capability to comply with those policies.
  • Create and test communication systems that employees can use to self-report if they are sick and that you can use to notify employees of exposures and closures.
  • Consider using a hotline or another method for employees to voice concerns anonymously.

Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products.

  • Be prepared to change your business practices, if needed, to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize existing customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations).
  • Identify alternate supply chains for critical goods and services. Some goods and services may be in higher demand or unavailable.
  • If other companies provide your business with contract or temporary employees, talk with them about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
  • Talk with business partners about your response efforts. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.
  • Identify and prioritize job functions for continuous operations. Minimize the number of workers present at worksites by balancing the need to protect workers with support for continuing operations.

Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children until childcare programs and K-12 schools can resume their normal schedules.

  • Plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace.
  • Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher-than-usual absenteeism.
  • Prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies.
  • Cross-train employees to perform essential functions so the workplace can operate even if key employees are absent.

Policies - Travel, Meetings, Etc.

Establish policies and practices for social distancing. Alter your workspace to help workers and customers maintain social distancing and physically separate employees from each other and from customers, when possible. Here are some strategies that businesses can use:

  • Implement flexible worksites (e.g., telework).
  • Implement flexible work hours (e.g., rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the workplace at the same time).
  • Increase physical space between employees at the worksite by modifying the workspace.
  • Increase physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive-through service, physical barriers such as partitions).
  • Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed at least 6 feet apart, to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible.
  • Implement flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone in-person non-essential meetings or events in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance).
  • Close or limit access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate and interact.
  • Prohibit handshaking.
  • Deliver services remotely (e.g., phone, video, or web).
  • Adjust your business practices to reduce close contact with customers - for example, by providing drive-through service, click-and-collect online shopping, shop-by-phone, curbside pickup, and delivery options, where feasible.
  • Move the electronic payment terminal/credit card reader farther away from the cashier, if possible, to increase the distance between the customer and the cashier.
  • Shift primary stocking activities to off-peak or after hours, when possible, to reduce contact with customers.

If you have more than one business location, consider giving local managers the authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their COVID-19 response plans based on their local conditions.

Limit travel and advise employees, if they must travel, to take additional precautions and preparations

  • Minimize non-essential travel and if resuming non-essential travel, follow state and local regulations and guidance.
  • Check Travel Planner for state, local, tribal, and territorial government restrictions before traveling. See interactive world map showing COVID-19 travel recommendations by destination.
  • Check the CDC's Traveler's Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country where you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from countries with travel advisories, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
  • For international travel, see the Small Business International Travel Resource, an employer and employee planning tool for safe and healthy employee travel.
  • Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 before starting travel and to notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
  • Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
  • If they are outside the United States, sick employees should follow company policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to help them find an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, or resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
  • If you must travel:
    • Before you travel, get tested with a viral test 1�3 days before your trip. Do not travel if you are waiting for test results, test positive, or are sick. Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information.
    • During travel, wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from people who are not traveling with you, wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer, and watch your health for signs of illness.
    • Before traveling back to the United States, get tested with a viral test 1�3 days before travel. Follow all destination and airline recommendations or requirements.
    • After you travel, get tested 3�5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel.
      • If you don't get tested, it's safest to stay home for 10 days.
      • If you had a known exposure to COVID-19 while traveling, delay travel, quarantine from other people, get tested, and monitor your health.

Minimize risk to employees when planning meetings and gatherings

  • Use videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings.
  • Cancel, adjust, or postpone large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance.
  • When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces continuing to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart and wear masks.

Maintain a tobacco-free workplace that protects those in workplaces from involuntary, secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke.

Administrative

Screening

Management and Communications

  • Monitor state and local public health communications about COVID-19
  • Encourage sick workers to report symptoms, stay home, and follow CDC guidance
  • Develop strategies to:
    • manage worker concerns
    • communicate with workers
  • Remind workers of available support services
  • Communicate to partners, suppliers, other contractors on policies and practices
  • Encourage social distancing and the use of masks (if appropriate) in the workplace
  • Use technology to promote social distancing (e.g., telework and virtual meetings)
  • Cancel group events
  • Close/limit use of shared spaces
  • Ask customers who are ill to stay home
  • Consider policies that encourage flexible sick leave and alternative work schedules.
  • Schedule stocking during off-peak hours
  • Maintain a tobacco-free workplace

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, (e.g., counters, shelving, displays)
  • Provide employees with disposable disinfectant wipes, cleaner, or sprays that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19

Training
Provide employees with training on:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE

  • Conduct workplace hazard assessment
  • Determine what PPE is needed for workers' specific job duties based on hazards and other controls present
  • Select and provide appropriate PPE to the workers at no cost
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Resources for more information:

CDC Guidance

Other Federal Agencies


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