Across the province, many workplaces have reopened after the initial shutdown triggered by the first wave of COVID-19. But now, many experts are saying that we are on the verge of – or in the beginning stages – of a second wave.
While most employers were caught off guard, and therefore unprepared for the first wave, they do not have to be unprepared for the second one. Now is the time for employers to assess their preparedness and take steps that will help ensure the safety of their staff and customers as well as the survival of their business.
Assessing your health and safety policies
Assessing your health and safety policies and readiness for a potential second wave of COVID-19 means more than simply ensuring your business has enough PPE on hand (although it means that too). It may mean reevaluating your staffing requirements and seeing if some of your employees can work from home to provide for more physical distancing at your place of business.
It may be time to invest in more technology in order to help employees work from home. This may include something as simple as a Zoom subscription, or purchasing additional webcams and headsets for your employees to use while working offsite.
Employers should have a COVID-19 plan in place which includes ensuring there are sufficient hygiene supplies, that there are regular cleanings of work areas, and that there is ongoing safety education for staff.
Planning for the financial impact
When the province went into a lockdown in March, it was financially devastating to many businesses. And if Ontario moves back into an earlier stage of lockdown – or even back into full lockdown – it could cripple business even further.
Employers therefore need to assume that this scenario may happen and start planning for the financial impacts now. This may include finding additional revenue streams and ways to add value for their customers, looking for cost savings – and unfortunately, considering staff reductions if necessary.
Employee support and engagement
It is also important for employers to recognize that some workers may need additional support during this time as many may be dealing with fear, anxiety, the uncertainty of sending their children back to school, or caring for a sick loved one.
One way to support and engage employees is to have them offer their input into health and safety practices and provide feedback or express their concerns.
Ensuring that employees are aware of how to access available resources such as an employee assistance program, can go a long way toward supporting their mental health and well-being.
Employers are facing an unprecedented time and need to be compliant with current COVID-19 safety protocols as well as employment related legislation. For employers who are unsure with how to deal with matters related to employment, mental health, health and safety and other matters that may arise during this time, our team at Minken Employment Lawyers can help avoid potential legal pitfalls.
Minken Employment Lawyers is your source for expert advice and advocacy on today’s employment law issues. If you have any questions on COVID-19 and your workplace please contact us or call us at 905-477-7011. Sign up for our newsletter to receive up-to-date COVID-19 information, including new legislation and Court decisions impacting your workplace.
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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