An HR guide to the workplace Corona Virus Response Plan

As we prepare to report to work, the time is now for all HR managers to show cause and develop a Corona Virus Response Plan for the teams they support. It will not be business as
usual at the respective places of work. Actually, some employees might be hesitant to report to work for fear of being infected by the novel Virus. In this paper, RCS Consult shares a few tips
that will guide HR managers as they go about designing their own plan.

Accessing Company Premises
1. Temperature Monitors. All companies and organizations should invest in acquiring temperature monitors at the different points of entry. All employees and visitors accessing company premises should be required to have their temperature taken before being admitted in.
2. Clock in Book. A provision should be made in the clock in book at the gate to record employee temperature each time they enter the gate. The same should be done for the visitors.
3. Sanitary handrub. A sanitary hand rub should be provided at the point of entry to ensure that all employees and visitors accessing company premises sanitize. Business owners should also go to lengths to provide pocket size hand sanitizers for all employees as extra precaution.
4. Face masks. All employees and visitors accessing company premises should wear a face mask as preventive PPE. Companies could also consider providing hand gloves for their staff.
5. Visitor admission. All visitors accessing company premises will have to state the exact office or employee that they are visiting at the gate. The employee will be notified and such an employee will be responsible for the visitor throughout the duration of their visit at the office and afterward shall escort them to the gate.
6. Number of people accessing the office. Businesses are advised to limit the number of people accessing company premises/offices as a measure to guard against infection.Workstation
1. Sanitizing the workstation. All employees shall be expected to sanitize their workstation as many times as they can when at work to avoid any possible infection.
2. Open door culture. All offices should be left open at all times. This will reduce chances of possible infection at the door knobs for individuals either accessing or exiting the office.
3. Use of AC/Fan. This should be prohibited as these gadgets are likely to escalate the spread of the infection.
An HR guide to the workplace Corona Virus Response Plan
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4. Use of talking boards. Boards in both offices and common areas should be used to display the Corona Virus SOPs. This will remind both staff and visitors to constantly comply to the required standards.
5. Use of gloves. For companies or individuals whose jobs require constant handling or exchange of “risky materials” like money; they are encouraged to wear gloves at all times.
6. Ergonomics – The workplace shall be organized or reorganized in such away to meet the required social distancing of 4 meters.

Internal Meetings
1. Where applicable all meetings should be enabled for remote participation,
2. Where remote participation is not possible, open area meetings should be encouraged. Staff should be encouraged to use open area spaces where they can comply with social distancing requirements as compared to the traditional boardroom meetings. Where internal meetings are going to be held between few individuals a boardroom setting could be used. However, the principle of 4 meter social distancing between individuals should be complied to.
3. Face masks. All individuals attending a meeting shall be expected to wear a face mask throughout the duration of the meeting.
4. Shaking hands. As a standard, no one should be allowed to shake hands before, during or after a meeting.
5. Sanitizers. Hand rub sanitizers should be provided at all entry points to meeting rooms to enable individuals sanitize before and after meetings.
6. Recruitment. Companies are advised to enable digitalized recruitment through skype, zoom, email, or telephone so as to avoid physical proximity of individuals which could expose them to the risk of infection.

Travel out of the country/ or to high risk areas in land

Some individuals have to regularly travel either out of the country or within the country but to
distant hubs away from their usual workstation as part of their job. The following shall apply for such individuals.
1. Quarantine. All individuals that travel out of the country shall be required to self quarantine at their homes or at a designated government facility for 2 weeks before resuming the normal office routines.
2. Work from home plan. All staff working from home for whatever reason – either because they recently travelled or because they have any of the COVID 19 symptoms (Flue, Fever, shortness of breath, or cough) shall have to fill in a work from home workplan, stating specific deliverables that they will be working on throughout the duration of their work from home period. They will be required to submit a report upon returning to work.
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3. Non-essential travel. Essential travel is defined as travel for business. Outside business
travel is regarded as non essential and shall not be allowed.
4. Interaction with staff after international travel or travel to high risk areas. No employee
will be allowed to interact with staff either at the office or outside the office until the
mandatory 14 days of self quarantine are done. All staff will be notified of such travel by
the respective staff and the mandatory quarantine.

Compliance
1. Compliance Officer. For companies that already have a compliance officer, this will be an added responsibility to ensure compliance to the corona virus SOPs. However, for companies that do not have one, they are encouraged to appoint one to ensure that there is compliance within the company.
2. Sharing of information. It will be the role of the Compliance Officer to regularly gather current information on Corona Virus either from the Ministry of Health or from the
internet and share it with all staff in a language and manner understandable by everyone.

Scale the response
Scaling the response plan is good as it helps staff understand how to respond at the different stages of the virus escalation.
Level One: – This is where we are now
1. Wear face masks
2. Wash hands
3. Social distance
4. Ban to all international travel

Level Two: – If the virus hits XXX number of people – possibly in thousands
1. Ban all office visitors.
2. Ban travel to high risk areas/districts.
3. Advise staff to plan their movements outside rush hours

Level Three: – If the virus hits XXX people – possibly in tens of thousands
1. Mandatory work from home for all staff.
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Work from Home
1. Work from Home Work Plan – All employees that will be granted permission to work from home will be required to prepare a “Work from Home Work Plan” and submit it to the supervisor.
2. Flu, Cough and Temperature – Companies are advised to revise their sick leave policy to provide for Flu, cough and Temperature as conditions that require sick leave.
3. To qualify to work from home, you need to have any or a combination of the following conditions:

a. You are sick or feeling sick with any of the following symptoms:

  • Flu
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

b. Recently traveled abroad
c. Your immune system is compromised
d. If a member of your household is sick and you need to take care
e. You have had contact with a person diagnosed with COVID 19
f. If you find yourself in any of the situations above and your role does not allow you to work from home, discuss leave options with your supervisor.

Stigma
1. It is highly likely that staff will discriminate an employee that shows conditions similar to those brought by COVID 19. As such, HR and the Compliance Officer shall ensure that all staff are sensitized about COVID 19, its causes, symptoms, and how to report suspected cases. Nothing quells fear like information. When staff know more about COVID 19 and how to protect themselves, they will be more confident and there will be less stigma.
2. No staff shall be allowed to stigmatize another – whether its a suspected case or verified.
3. HR or a designated staff shall be required to send inspirational messages, field calls of encouragement so that, staff working from home or hospitalized feel cared for and part of the bigger team. No staff should be left to feel isolated.
4. Access to professional Counsellors. Where possible, companies should put in place arrangements for staff to access professional counsellors as a mechanism to reduce worry, and fear among staff.
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Office Cleanliness
1. It is advisable to keep the office environment very clean at all times. This will promote higher confidence among staff. They will know that the company is capable of protecting them
2. Ensure that the responsible staff reads the specifications on all cleaners and ensure that cleaners being used have the right specifications to kill the Corona Virus and other bacteria.
3. Train the sanitary staff and other workers about how to keep the work place clean.

Technology
Invest in technology as much as possible especially knowing that its less likely that staff will contract the virus through tech.

Communication & Equipping Staff
1. Staff returning to work should be notified of the new SOPs for COVID 19 at the workplace. Formal orientation or re-orientation would be advised.
2. All staff should be provided with Corona Virus PPE.