The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus is becoming a global health concern. Employers need to be prepared to respond quickly as matters continue to develop. Information regarding the Coronavirus can be found on the Health Canada website which provides additional information including the signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus.
Employers need to be mindful of their ongoing right and responsibilities in their workplaces which includes:
- Duty to provide a safe work environment;
- Duty to provide a workplace free from discrimination and harassment;
- Offering Employees access to unpaid statutory leaves of absence if they are sick;
- Worker’s compensation benefits may be available to employees affected by the Coronavirus.
- Employers must keep employee’s personal information, including health status strictly confidential.
Employers should consider implementing the following best practices to manage and prevent the Coronavirus within their workplace:
- Ensure proper hygiene etiquette is followed by providing access to hygiene products (facial tissues, flu masks etc) and sending reminder emails to wash hands, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
- Ensure that policies on various sick and caregiver leaves are readily available to employee and that employees understand they will not be penalized for absenteeism related to controlling the spread of Coronavirus.
- Educate workers on the signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus and precautions that are to be taken to prevent spreading of the Coronavirus.
- Accommodate medical conditions to the point of undue hardship.
- Evaluate workplace emergency response protocols.
In responding to these issues, it is important for employers to be proactive in approaching employee concerns. To note, the health authorities have not issued any specific directives or orders that dictate a required response by employers and employees.