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Many employers have been waiting anxiously for the "re-opening" of the local economy. However, before level 3 lockdown workplaces could re-open their doors on the 1 June 2019, employers were faced with tremendous legal and logistical requirements around COVID-19 compliance.

Health and safety, privacy and human resources will abound, and further uncharted territories still lie ahead of us. 

It is important that both employer and employees understand their obligations and their rights to mitigate and manage the risk of working in the new COVID-19 environment.

The success of a COVID-19 risk mitigation program may rise or fall based on employee behavior and compliance. Therefore, in addition to employee screening, employers should consider dusting off their outdated employee handbooks and policies and updating them to align with the current challenges and “new normal” being faced.

More specifically, employers should set out clear rules, processes, and expectations for employee behavior. Recommendations of updated policies, include but are not limited too –

  • Company code of conduct

  • Travel policy

  • Work arrangements: transitioning your workforce to work remotely requires a number, of changes that need to be reflected, such as adding a “work from home” policy that employees must sign. This helps employees understand what your new landscape looks like and manages expectations as employees navigate this new territory.

  • Sick leave policy

  • Electronic communications policy

  • Health and Safety policy

  • Wellbeing resources

  • Disciplinary code

  • Behavioral and performance expectations: Employers should remember to document and disseminate these to employees. Likewise, employers must be sure to hold employees accountable for their compliance with the new work rules as they would any other work rule or standard of conduct.

  • Details and consequences regarding prohibited conduct and failure to comply with the standards of conduct - such as coming to work with COVID-19 symptoms, failure to socially distance in the workplace, failure to wear and utilize PPE, and failure to disinfect / clean working areas and equipment

“The role of Human Resources has been key for employers who depend on the discipline. As perhaps the first global crisis in the modern HR era, HR’s value has shone in ways that will become more apparent as brighter days return.”

Should your company require any Human Resources assistance please don’t hesitate to us.

Article by Tiffany Reed

HR Consultant

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