A ‘Between Waves’ Planner for Small Businesses

6. Human Resouces

  • Identify one or more employees who can serve as a Pandemic Manager and be responsible for workplace health and safety. This manager will be responsible for:
    • Establishing employee policies and procedures related to this specific public health issue.
    • Setting up a system to monitor employees who are ill or showing symptoms.
    • Setting up a screening process per CDC and public official guidelines, which may include taking employee temperatures before entering work sites, wearing appropriate protective equipment or maintaining proper social distancing in the workplace.
    • Ensuring that the workplace has adequate supplies of personal protection equipment, tissues, medical and hygiene products, cleaning supplies, etc. Stockpile these items as availability allows as shortages may occur as another wave approaches.
  • Update employee leave policies to accommodate a pandemic, including PTO, sick leave, unpaid leave, etc. Make sure they align with state and federal laws.
  • Identify workers and teams that can continue to work remotely. If possible, create a tiered system so workers can be transitioned to remote work in stages.
  • Identify non-essential workers who may need to be temporarily furloughed or released permanently.
  • Establish remote work and telework policies and procedures. If you have security systems with firewalls, make sure that your IT department can offer proper support for remote access.
  • If you are requiring employee testing, establish the process and make sure your staff knows the procedure for testing as well as reporting an infection. 
  • Consider adjusting your benefits to allow employees to use sick leave or take paid time off to get their vaccines.
  • If vaccinations are required for employment, make sure employees are notified with enough time to get their first and second vaccines, factoring in the additional two weeks after the second dose to ensure maximum immunity. If employees can opt out, explain the circumstances and procedures they can use, such as religious or health issues.
  • As you start recruiting, be sure that your advertisements for positions includes the vaccination requirement. 
  • Communicate your plan for calling workers back to work once the crisis has passed.
  • Train managers on new procedures and protocols, including hygiene and safety practices.
  • Review your Employee Assistance Program to ensure it has the capacity and expertise needed to handle the emotional and mental strain of a prolonged pandemic.
  • Develop pandemic education and information sharing processes targeted to employees and their families. Make sure family members understand the safety protocols you have in place to protect their loved ones.
  • Ensure sensitivity to employee privacy on any information gathered.