Template: Communicating a COVID-19 Exposure in the Workplace
While many workforces remain working from home, some companies will start making plans to return to the office with talk about a possible COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon. Some companies don’t have the possibility to work remotely, so the risk of an onsite COVID-19 is a very real possibility. Read on for a communication template and strategy for notifying employees in the event of an exposure at your workplace.
Guidelines for Communication
It’s up to employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace, or they risk facing penalties. Follow these five best practices when contacting and informing teammates.
- Include all Employees on Communications. Make sure you notify all workers who access your workplace. This includes janitorial staff, management, maintenance teams, and visitors (if applicable). Let employees know how you’ll be sending out notifications. If you’re using email or phone communication, ensure you have employees’ up-to-date contact information.
- Maintain Confidentiality. Even if your team is small, it’s imperative to maintain confidentiality and ensure your employees that they’re protected. Not only is this required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it also fosters an understanding workplace culture and encourages workers to self-report if they get sick.
- Keep it Timely. Alert employees as soon as possible about potential COVID-19 exposure. Check to see if state laws exist in your area that establish how quickly you need to inform employees after a reported case. For example, California just mandated a requirement for employers to notify employees within one business day of learning about positive COVID-19 cases.
- Consider Tone. While you need to keep employees informed and vigilant to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, employers should also maintain composure, compassion, and understanding when communicating with employees. A panicked, confused, or disgruntled workforce won’t help the situation.
- Include Next Steps. Your company should have a plan in place in case of outbreaks at the office. The CDC outlines guidance for employers in the event of COVID-19 exposure. Be sure to address employees’ questions and provide ample communication about policies like sick leave, sanitation, and safety measures at the office—and how long employees should quarantine. The CDC recently released updated guidelines for reducing the time for quarantining under certain circumstances.
Template for COVID-19 Exposure in the Workplace
Use the following example to outline communication in the event of a COVID-19 exposure at your office:
We have identified [#] confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our workforce. As such, employees working at [location] may have been exposed to this virus.
We are staying in close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps under the current circumstances. These include:
[Outline steps your workplace is taking]
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 illness, please inform HR at [contact information] and contact your healthcare provider. [Company name] will keep all medical information confidential and will only disclose it on a need-to-know basis. We encourage you to review the CDC website for information about COVID-19, including symptoms, how it spreads, and actions you can take to protect your health: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
This is a time of stress and uncertainty. We will continue to provide regular updates about the situation and will promptly notify you if we identify any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The safety of our employees is our top priority during this time. I want to thank everyone for your patience as we collectively navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If you have any additional questions, please contact [contact information].
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