Coronavirus has made its way to the U.S. And the CDC recently released guidance for businesses that are concerned about its potential impact.
Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a virus that causes a wide range of symptoms. Mild cases include cough, shortness of breath, fever, and respiratory issues. Severe cases can lead to viral pneumonia, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. It’s part of the coronavirus family. It has since spread to many countries around the world, including the U.S.
For businesses, the spread of coronavirus may also impact the workplace. It’s possible that your employees may need extra time off to get medical attention for these symptoms, or to care for loved one who have been affected.
However, it’s usually better to deal with a few absent employees than the alternative. If people feel pressured to not miss any work and an infectious disease spreads around your office or facility, employees may miss significant time and put others at risk. For the good of your team, customers, business, and the community, it’s best to exercise caution when it comes to employees showing symptoms.
The CDC statement reads, in part, “All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.”
What Small Businesses Can Do Now
More specifically, the CDC recommends that businesses adopt flexible sick time policies and avoid making employees adhere to limits or obtain doctor’s notes. Place posters or literature around your office or business to explain any policy changes to employees and make sure they know to take time off and let a supervisor know, if needed. You may need to take alternative measures to make up for a potential loss of man hours, like outsourcing or asking some team members to be on-call.
The agency also stresses the importance of proper hand washing and environmental cleaning. So make sure sufficient cleaners and hand washing stations are present around your facility.
The coronavirus outbreak could prove potentially even more troubling. Especially to business owners or professionals who travel on a regular basis. Do you or a team member take frequent trips? Heave they flown recently to countries where there have been outbreaks? Then look out for symptoms. And contact a healthcare professional right away if you experience any.
Overall, businesses need to take the risks of coronavirus seriously. And plan for potential absenteeism. This may become necessary if employees need to get medical attention. Or if they need to assist sick family members. However, the CDC also notes it’s also important to maintain confidentiality. Protect the privacy of those who may be dealing with coronavirus symptoms. And never make determinations based on other factors like race or country of origin.