Policies you need for Covid-19

COVID-19 has forced many companies to rapidly pivot and change as guidelines frequently change. Many companies rely on their human resources teams to monitor the changing guidelines and implement policies to keep staff and customers safe. Companies without an internal HR department are faced with potentially costly policy decisions without the benefit of a skilled HR professional. Hillman HR Services can help you navigate the complex, unprecedented, and constantly changing situation. Now more than ever, it is critical for companies and HR professionals to collaborate on business practices to protect the well-being of their staff and the company.

Common HR policies that should be reconsidered are leave policies, health benefits, and remote work schedules.

Leave Policies

Review your leave policies with all employees and considered if this unique situation may justify, if not require, a modified policy. The Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act went into effect in April. It requires certain public and private employers with less than 500 people to provide their employees with some form of paid sick leave for the consequences caused by COVID. State and municipal policies on sick time vary across markets and during the pandemic some have implemented policies about leave time. Making sure that your policy follows federal, state, and local guidelines can be confusing and time-consuming. Consulting with an HR professional during this time can ensure that your business is operating within the current rules.

Implementing a new leave policy during this time makes sense for both the welfare of the company and the employee. Considering the rise in school and daycare closures, employees that may have pre-existing conditions, and local health departments requesting those exposed to self-quarantine, having a policy in place that is enforced equitably will help for smooth transitions when necessary. We recommend that leave policies should be flexible and take into consideration whether working remotely is an option.

Many companies have elected to offer a set about of paid time that may be taken for COVID-related absences and additional time unpaid without fear of termination. Look to see what similar businesses in your area are offering. Determine the best policy for your business taking into consideration the safety and needs of your business and your employees.

Health Benefits

What a business offers in the way of health benefits vary greatly. In the current climate, there is an emphasis on health care and has increased the importance of health coverage as a key benefit for a company to offer.

We are seeing increased interest in family coverage, elder care, telehealth (virtual healthcare), and mental health support. Although your organization may not be able to change healthcare coverage options until an open enrollment window, it may be wise to understand the needs of your employees and ask about their desired benefits.

How are premiums paid? Do you pay the entire premium or is the cost shared with the employee? What is the policy on who pays the premium when there is an extended leave? These need to be addressed upfront and understood by everyone.

Remote Work

Working from home is becoming the new normal for many businesses and the transition has not always gone smoothly. Challenges with workforce management, operations, communication have caused confusion and frustrations. Adopting defined remote work policies will help to minimize the impact of the operational and departmental changes.

Where it is feasible, employees should work from home, this allows your essential in-office personnel to social distance easier.

In-Office Workers: For in-office staff consider using flexible worksites or staggered shifts and adopt policies for maintaining the recommended 6 feet of distance. If mask-wearing is mandated by your state or local health department, you will be expected to enforce that. Make sure to have a supply of masks and have hand sanitizer easily accessible throughout the office space.

Have a clear policy for sick employees. Encourage sick employees to stay home and if an employee should become sick at work they should be sent home immediately. Make sure they are separated from others until they leave the building and clean and disinfect any areas the sick employee may have visited. Many state and local health departments require that employees have their temperatures taken daily and fill out a questionnaire about their current health and recent travel and activities.

Remote Workers: Make sure to share clear expectations for communication, virtual meetings, and productivity.  Consider if the goal is to have the remote employee available during regular business hours or if working outside their normal hours will make more sense. Remote workers face different challenges than in-house staff. With tight living arrangements, family at home, internet connections, lack of resources typically provided by the company, and a limited connection to the outside world maintaining a healthy, work-life balance is almost impossible. Offering flexibility to work after hours in the evenings may prove to be beneficial to the employee and the company.

Hillman HR

The list of precautions, policies, and guidelines that are released on almost a daily basis makes compliance difficult, if not impossible. Carrying out your “normal” business while also keeping your employees healthy, happy, and motivated in a time of crisis is just as challenging. Hillman HR stays current with the latest information from the CDC, federal, state, and local governmental bodies. We will work with you to evolve your business practices in the COVID landscape and protect the well-being of your staff and your company now and as it moves forward post COVID. For more information, please visit our Services page.

Additional recommendations from the CDC for small businesses may be found at the CDC