Keeping your employees safe when returning to work

Now that Ontario has began to ease lockdown restrictions, you as an employer may be wondering what exactly you need to do before allowing your employees to come back to work. Well, we at Innovated had the same thought. Here is a detailed list we came up with that will aid in keeping your employees safe when they return to the workplace.

□ Create a “Return to the Workplace” taskforce, or point person.

Depending on the size of your business, consider appointing someone, or an entire team, to lead the efforts of assessing and optimizing your establishment for return. They will also help communicate changes and updates to employees.

□ Over communicate to your staff about returning to the workplace.

Make sure they understand what precautions you have taken, and assure them they can return safely.

□ Create a “Return to the Workplace” schedule.

Your goal is to manage how many people are arriving and working in your establishment throughout the day and week. Consider developing a profile that assesses each employee based on their need to physically be there, potential COVID-19 exposure, commute methods (do they take public transportation?), and other considerations (such as childcare, for example).
Use the profile to build out your priority list for those who are first to return.

□ Establish an ongoing Work From Home (WFH) policy

This will help to ensure the workplace isn’t overly crowded. It will also enable those employees who are concerned about returning to “take it slow,” will help you establish safe, socially distanced working arrangements, and will support your employees with children at home due to school cancellations.

□ Review and update your policies.

Look at sick leave, vacation time, travel policies, etc., and determine if you should make any changes or updates based on COVID-19.

□ Encourage appropriate safety practices in your office.

Practices include frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, eliminating high-touch areas, and wiping down common spaces.

□ Tell employees to stay home if they, or someone they live with feels sick or exhibits any known COVID-19 symptoms.

This may seem obvious, but it needs to be explained to your employees.

□ Encourage your employees to “ease in”, as people may be stressed and tired when they return to the workplace.

Expect that your employees will need time to acclimate. Working at home is very different than working in an establishment. Encourage frequent breaks, and expect that people will need to adjust.

□ Check with local health officials about health screening recommendations.

You may want to consider a daily health screening procedure, such as temperature checks, but make sure you reach out to your legal representative for guidance before you deploy any new procedure.

□ Establish an open line of communication with your employees.

Create a cadenced stream of communication with your employees and ensure they understand the channels available to them should they have questions, comments, or concerns.

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