The World Health Organisation warned that global Covid-19 infections are accelerating, noting that it took only 4 days for cases to jump from 200,000 to 300,000 and 3 days for the cases to jump to 400,000. Total cases are currently at 859,032 per April 1. With the cases continuing to surge, more governments around the world issue lockdown regulation. France, Denmark, Italy, and Spain are among countries that have formal lockdown instruction from the government. Lockdown means an emergency protocol that prevents people or information from leaving an area, meaning workers should be instructed to work from home and are unable to travel outside town or overseas for any business-related matters.
There are some countries, however, that do not enable lockdown amid the pandemic. South Korea, with 9,000 more cases to date, does not enact lockdowns like Italy or Spain. But the country has its own tactical decisions regarding schools, movements, and other strategies without some of the draconian measures, said Mike Ryan to NPR. Without strict lockdown, employees can still work normally in their office, yet it does not reduce the impact of Covid-19 exposure at the workplace, Ryan added.
When employers cannot issue work-from-home policy because no formal lockdown instruction is issued from the government, there are three things HR should consider.
Many employers have paid sick leave policy and employees are encouraged to take it to limit Covid-19 exposure at the workplace. However, paid sick leave is limited and for many, taking a sick day means forgoing a paycheck – a lot of workers cannot afford to miss a paycheck as they worry about their bank balance. This is why employees might come to work even when they don’t feel well (having mild symptoms) – something which will increase the Covid-19 spreading in the workplace.
To eliminate any unexpected exposure, employers must assess employees’ work schedule and provide the resources they need to make such arrangement work. This, of course, can only be done by employers where there is no complete lockdown instruction from the government. If there is, employers must follow the government’s instruction to not violate any unlawful practice.
Employees would want to know what is available for them beyond health insurance or paid sick leave plan. It is better to let people know beforehand, even when they are not asking about it. A workplace discussion should be encouraged and employers should encourage employees to speak up about what would best serve them. For example, your employees might have children or elderly at home who need care. As childcare providers might close at times of crisis like this, your employees need to care for them alone at home. Thus, providing a flexible or remote option with remote access to the company’s system would be helpful.
Lastly, HR and employers should stay informed with any changes made by the government regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. HR should update any emergency contact needed to assist both employers and employees. Let your employees know this information as it could help your employees stay away from any cyber threat that might come along with the Covid-19 pandemic.