We are currently facing something new. Employers are eager to understand how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Governments are making decisions affecting everyday life and employers need to make practical decisions. “Can we request employees to work from home?”, “May employees refuse going to work based on fear of being infected?” are just examples of frequently asked questions.
Here are some practical guidelines that you may want to consider (and to re-evaluate as the situation evolves):
- Risk assessment: Employers are responsible for the work environment - which means that you shall do your best to prevent sickness or accidents at work. Currently, all workplaces should consider the coronavirus as a potential risk for the work environment. Identify low, medium, high-risk levels and initiate appropriate safety measures, now at the latest. Work travel has been prohibited in many companies and remote work is being encouraged or expected if possible.
Many companies’ business is affected by the quarantines, sick-leaves, restrictions imposed by the government and officials and customers being more cautious. This may lead to reduced work for the employees. It is very important to follow the procedural rules related to lay-offs. Each company’s situation needs to be evaluated case-by-case.
- Written instructions/policy: Check your country authority guidelines and communicate company policy to employees through e-mail or other channels normally used. Remember to update the instructions, if and when the situation changes. Employees should, for example, receive information on 1) how to act at the workplace, including for example safety measures to consider (hygiene, physical contact), 2) when and if remote work is requested (depending on the length of, and reason need for, such remote work, separate agreement or reorganization might be needed), 3) rules on sickness and quarantines and 4) travel guidelines.
- Work environment tools/supplies: Provide employees with tools/supplies in order to maintain a good work environment, such as hygiene products, work equipment for remote work, good indoor ventilation, etc. Also, inform who to contact at the company in case of questions.
- Follow-up: Maintaining a good and healthy work environment and keeping the company running is a continuous work which means that risks need to be evaluated continuously, policies/guidelines need to be reviewed and updated frequently and if needed.
Our employment law team is here to help you. Currently you reach us with all online ways. Do not hesitate to contact us if there is something you need help with.