The recent implications of COVID-19, Coronavirus, show us the importance of maintaining workplace cleanliness and hygiene practices. As an employer, these are some of the responsibilities you should be considering:
1. Develop clear and concise workplace policies: it is important that your employees understand how proper hygiene practices can keep the workplace clean and reduce the spread of any viruses or germs. Health officials recommend providing tissues, hand sanitiser and no-touch trash cans at each work station, as well as hand soap and disposable towels near hand washing facilities. You could consider placing the following resources in frequently trafficked areas of your business and also distributing via email:
- A hand hygiene explanation
- Information on how the virus is transmitted and symptoms that might present
- Official publications about the virus and what people should do if they believe they are symptomatic.
2. Staying home when sick: employees might feel guilty for not attending work, but it is important that you encourage them to stay home if they are exhibiting signs of being sick. For full and part time employees, inform them of your sick leave policies and any exceptions that might apply in these circumstances, letting them know it is best practice to not return to work until they are sure all signs of sickness are gone. If one of your workers appears symptomatic, it might be necessary to request they go home.
3. Know your leave and flexible working arrangement policies: it is important to adhere to State and Federal regulations when dealing with leave matters. You can find some leave resources here, but it is also important that you consider your internal policies. We also recommend considering what flexible working arrangements you can offer staff members, such as working from home and using video conferencing in place of face-to-face interactions.
4. Monitor guidance from health officials: regular and official updates on health situations are provided by the Australian Government Department of Health. You can also subscribe to updates on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
5. Staff whereabouts: with respect to privacy, it might be beneficial to keep a track of if your employees have traveled to at-risk areas recently.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe place of work for your staff. While external spread of the virus is largely out of your control, we recommend taking the precautions you can to protect your staff members and clients.