Employers advised to ‘relax sick leave policy’, and 16 other Covid-19 workplace guidelines

Employers advised to ‘relax sick leave policy’, and 16 other Covid-19 workplace guidelines

Picture: iStock

On Thursday, after news that the novel coronavirus Covid-19 had reached South African shores, Nspire has released guidelines and advice for employers on how to manage their workplaces.

Currently, only one patient has been identified as testing positive, in KwaZulu-Natal.

In South Africa the arrival of Covid-19 has coinciding with the country’s seasonal influenza period.

It is important to ensure that we do not stigmatise people who may have a sneeze or cough. A rational and preventative approach in the workplace is required.

Please apply the following guidelines, as provided by Nspire:

  1. Actively encourage sick employees to stay at home;
  2. An employee with flulike or cold-like symptoms should rather remain home, contact their doctor and get tested;
  3. Only employees who do not have signs of a fever (anything from 37.8⁰ C or greater using an oral thermometer) and no signs of any other flu-like symptoms for at least 24 hours may return to work;
  4. Employers are encouraged to relax their sick leave policies and guidelines for the period that the Covid-19 outbreak is declared. Be flexible; rather allow ill employees to remain home than take the risk of such an employee potentially infecting co-workers;
  5. The effect of this virus will also require employees who may have family members that are infected with Covid-19 to remain home to take care of such family members. Employers are encouraged to be flexible with allowing employees time off to care for infected family members;
  6. If an employee has been in contact with someone who is suspected of being infected, such an employee should remain at home and get themselves tested;
  7. If an employee arrives at work and appears to have some respiratory illness’ symptoms, or becomes sick during the day with fly-like symptoms, they must be separated from other employees and immediately be sent home. Please refrain from allowing them to use public transport where there is great risk of infecting other people;
  8. Educate employees about how Covid-19 spreads (coughing or sneezing; close personal contact such as shaking hands and touching others; touching an object or surface on which the virus is found – where an ill person exhaled onto a surface or coughed, such as a desk, table or telephone);
  9. Inform employees that the primary symptoms are coughing, a fever and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
  10. It takes one to 14 days to develop symptoms;
  11. Educate employees about cough and sneeze etiquette;
  12. Educate employees about washing hands often, especially when they have been in public areas at work;
  13. Place alcohol-based (at least 60%) hand sanitiser at appropriate locations in and around the office and remind employees to regularly wash their hands. If soap and water is used, they should wash for at least 20 seconds;
  14. Avoid touch-disposable receptacles;
  15. Perform more regular routine environmental cleaning. This will include desks, work stations, countertops, finger printing areas, doorknobs, bathroom areas, taps, etc;
  16. Provide disposable wipes so that employees may clean commonly used areas before they use it;
  17. If an employee has been infected, fellow employees should be advised to remain home and get themselves tested.

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