An employee returning to work after a bout of illness presents a unique set of challenges. While their return may be welcome by some, it can pose a potential risk to the safety and well-being of the rest of your workforce. Although it is not always possible to keep a sick employee at home, you can take some preventative steps to reduce the risk of them spreading illness to other employees.
Employees were allowed to work remotely during the recent pandemic. Slowly, they have started coming back to their workplaces as restrictions related to Covid-19 are eased. Employers face some risks if employees recently diagnosed with an infectious illness, like Covid-19, return to the workplace. The risk of this contagious disease is not over. Its new variants are still emerging. Employers face many challenges in bringing employees back to the workplace in this situation.
All employees should be made aware of the symptoms of Covid-19. Early detection of this disease is the key to preventing it from spreading further. Individuals who suffer from this illness must spend some time in isolation after recovery to avoid infecting other people who do not have immunity against this infection. Sick employees must stay at home and follow the health protocol issued by the health department. They can go back to their workplace only after recovering fully.
The employer should develop a plan that covers this subject thoroughly. The plan must outline the Covid-19 guidelines that everyone at the workplace must follow.
This guideline must answer some essential questions:
- What constitutes a ‘sick employee’?
- What steps must the sick employee take after being diagnosed with an infectious illness?
- What should an employee with symptoms of the infection do?
- How long can an employee remain away from work on sick leave?
- How long can an employee work remotely?
- What arrangements have been made at the workplace to prevent the further spread of an infectious disease?
There are some risks if employees suffering from an infectious disease are allowed to join the workplace, mainly:
- A sick employee can spread the infection to other employees.
- Any spread of infection at the workplace or in the community will invite penalties from the health, labour and other government departments.
- The employer can face lawsuits from employees affected by the spread of infection at the workplace.
- If a large number of employees become sick, business operations will be disrupted.
- The company’s reputation goes down if it cannot prevent and control the spread of infection in the workplace.
- Any closure of work due to employees’ absence will affect the company’s revenue.
Businesses, companies and organizations that want to avoid such risks must take adequate measures to protect everyone at their workplace. They face increased legal and labour risks if they do not take preventative measures to mitigate the effects of these risks. Companies that fail regularly are under a higher level of scrutiny from government departments, employees, the public and business partners.
Everyone welcomes proactive measures. Effective measures and proper handling of the situation improve the employer’s reputation. It benefits not only the employees but the employer as well. Measures that prevent and mitigate the risks allow the business to continue its operations and avoid losses.
Employees look for clarity from the employer in this matter. They want the company to have an active plan related to this matter. The plan should outline how the spread of this infectious disease in the workplace will be prevented and managed. Employees expect clear guidelines about what they are expected to do and what the company will do under these circumstances.
Covid-19 poses many risks to businesses, but they have an opportunity to protect and improve their reputation by being proactive. They should issue Covid-19 guidelines to their employees.
These steps help employers avoid legal challenges from their employees. They cannot be accused of negligence and not complying with the Covid-19 protocol. Employers that handle these risks successfully avoid problems like walkouts by the employees, legal challenges from them, loss of revenue, loss of reputation, low productivity and high employee attrition rate. Visit the Learning Center to find more information about these risks and solutions.