COVID-19 Updates

Mar 10, 2020

Coronavirus: employer action plan

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, employers need to be prepared to respond to minimize its impact on their business. Of course, employers need to consider how to best decrease the spread of the coronavirus in their workplace in the event of an outbreak. Additionally, employers should be ready to adjust business practices to the extent necessary and possible, given possible absenteeism, quarantines, etc.

Employers should prepare and communicate their objectives for an infectious-disease management plan. This plan should be similar to, or the same as, other business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Effective plans may include reducing transmission among staff, protecting those who are at higher risk of adverse health complications and maintaining business operations.

Key considerations when making decisions on appropriate response measures include:

  • Severity of the disease in the area in which the business is located;
  • Preparing for increased employee absences due to illness of the employee, family members and dismissals from child care or schools (e.g., Japan closing its schools for a month);
  • Encouraging plans for employers with one or more locations to provide local managers with the authority to take appropriate actions according to their response plan based on the condition of each location; and
  • Coordination with state and local health officials so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for an infectious disease outbreak response plan include:

  • Identifying potential work-related exposure;
  • Reviewing human resource polices to ensure practices are consistent with public health recommendations;
  • Determining whether policies such as flexible worksites and flexible hours to increase the physical distance among employees should be established;
  • Identifying essential business functions and critical elements in your supply chain (e.g., suppliers, subcontractor services, raw materials and logistics) required to maintain business operations;
  • Establishing a process to communicate information to employees and business partners on your infectious disease outbreak plan; and
  • ConsiderIing cancellation of non-essential business travel to countries per travel guidance on the CDC website.

While there currently is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed. The CDC recommends the following preventative measures to help prevent your risk of illness:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol;
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces;
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick; 
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw away the tissue rather than reusing it.

Our attorneys can assist your business in developing an infectious disease outbreak response plan if you do not currently have one in place. Please contact any of the attorneys in our Corporate Transactions & Business Law or Employment practice groups for assistance.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.

Client Alert authored by the Corporate Transactions & Business Law practice group