On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, acknowledging the global reach of the virus. Countries and territories worldwide have established a range of restrictions, which have grown in severity as the death toll climbs. We are now living in a “new normal” that includes travel restrictions, limitations on group gatherings, and movement control.
COVID-19 has rapidly transformed culture and society in nations in every hemisphere, altering how people live, study and work. In this dynamic environment, businesses are seeking to take the most effective actions to support their employees’ health, safety, and well-being. Below, Chubb provides general guidance for employers to consider for protecting their employees during the pandemic.
Understand the Role of Your Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting virtually every type of business and industry. Your company’s response to the pandemic—and how you support your employees—will depend on the local impact of the crisis; the nature of your business; and, critically, your industry’s role in combating the virus and providing essential services.
If your industry provides essential services—and especially services that require employees to continue working in public places and interacting with other people—your company may have special responsibilities to protect employees while remaining operational.
Essential services include but are not limited to healthcare; food and agriculture; energy; transportation and logistics; water and wastewater; financial services; telecommunications and information technology; critical manufacturing; government services; and more.
You should consider benchmarking your activities, monitoring and evaluating your response against what peer organisations are doing. You may also want to consult with your industry’s trade organisation and follow their guidance.
Support Safety in the Workplace
- Providing face masks for employees.
- Regularly deep cleaning workspaces and equipment.
- Enabling social distancing of at least two meters in work areas.
- Checking the temperature of employees before they enter work areas.
Keep in mind that your operations may be limited by local or national government restrictions. For example, restrictions on movement may limit your ability to receive raw materials or deliver products. You may want to consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with regulations.
Taking robust actions to protect your employees is the right thing to do for your workforce. Supporting safe, responsible operations can also help your business maintain a positive reputation with employees, recruiters, and the broader public.
Reinforce Healthy Work-From-Home Practices
In response to the pandemic, millions of employees worldwide are now working from home. Your business can support the health and well-being of remote employees through several actions, including:
- Providing remote employees with the software, services, tools, and equipment they need to work.
- Offering training and support on specific technologies and on steps to stay healthy while working from home.
- Maintaining ongoing, open communications with employees that support both work and social contact.
- Encouraging employees to take breaks and engage in physical activity.
- Providing resources and support, such as a mental health hotline, that help remote employees address stress and isolation.
- Create opportunities for online fun, learning, and socialisation, such as hosting a virtual happy hour or “lunch and learn” webinars.
See “Supporting the Mental and Physical Health of Your Remote Workforce,” for more information and ideas.