As a business owner and leader, your employees are looking to you for direction and guidance, especially in times of uncertainty. The current COVID-19 pandemic and regional crisis is one of those times.

This is a time for leaders to be “born” and realized. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) is prevalent and your staff need someone to turn to who can provide trusted information on how your business will move forward.

The following checklist will help guide your conversations with employees. While we appear to be dealing with uncharted territory in the workplace, creating a mindful and collaborative Human Experience will be key.

First Steps

  • Stay calm and use common sense
  • Obtain current staff contact information including home/mobile numbers and emails.
  • Review the roles in your organization. Are there activities performed by team members that can be done offsite or at home? If necessary, individuals may be asked to self-isolate and a good understanding of what work they can perform at home will help ensure continued operations.
  • Can your IT infrastructure support staff from working at home? Do your company policies permit work to be done offsite (consider security, privacy of data and what level of remote access is necessary).
  • Limit in-person meetings like town-halls / all-hand meetings, departmental gatherings and other non-essential meetups. Look to conduct meetings virtually (conference calls, and video meetings can be very effective if you set the right tone when organizing the event).

Visitors to Your Company

  • Consider not accepting visitors including vendors and suppliers, customers, partners, who have traveled to an area designated by the Health Canada as Level 3 – or have been in contact with individuals who have traveled to or through the designated areas – over the last 30 days.
  • Anyone who has traveled to an area designated by the Health Canada as Level 2, or has been in contact with individuals who have traveled to or through the designated areas, should only attend your office or facility for business-critical meetings only.
  • Such visitors should contact their host at your company prior to attempting to visit any office to confirm the necessity of a face-to-face meeting and consider using other methods of meeting, such as video conference.
  • Visitors should complete and sign a short health screening questionnaire (attached) prior to any office visit (or at the time of visit). The employee hosting the meeting is responsible for ensuring that the form is completed prior to the office visit. If there is a “yes” response to any question, the host should work with the visitor to postpone, cancel, or hold the meeting virtually.
  • Please remember to use discretion and confidentiality when receiving questionnaires and responses

Managing Quarantines or Related Absences

  • If your company does not have a short term disability program through your benefit program, eligible employees (those who are full time employees that are having EI premiums deducted from their pay cheques and have worked a minimum of 600 hours in the year before a claim) can apply for up to 15 weeks of employment insurance if they cannot work for supported medical reasons. (This now includes quarantines).
  • One-week waiting period waived: If you are quarantined for two weeks, you would be eligible to receive EI Benefits for the entire 14-day quarantine.
  • Doctor’s notes are normally required to obtain sick leave benefits, however, this requirement is currently waived to those who are required to be absent from work by law or under order of a public health official. Employees who are asked to self isolate by their employers when public-health officials recommend it can also qualify. Please note that the exact documentation required is still evolving.
  • If you can support working remotely and, your employee feels well enough to do so, discuss what work can be done and define shared expectations for what will be accomplished during the quarantine.
  • Communicate clearly with your employees and ensure that you have a documented plan for what will be accomplished while they are away, and for their return to work. Documentation can be as simple as an email outlining your conversation and agreement.

March Break

It’s that time of year and health care professionals will always tell you that they are very busy after March Break. Individuals should really re-evaluate any travel plans they may have. As an employer, you have the right to ask employees if they have traveled to high-risk places.

  • If your employees have plans to travel, speak with them in detail to discuss where they are going and make a plan for their return.
  • Ask about any lay-over or stop-off points as part of their travel

Employee Rights

  • Employees have the right to refuse work if they feel it is unsafe.
  • If your company has more than 20 employees, you should have a Joint Health & Safety Committee under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
    • One member should represent your employees and one member should represent your management.
    • Your workplace must be inspected monthly (and you should document those inspections)
  • Employees should engage this committee to investigate and report any risk if needed.

Best Practices

  • Maintain open communication, communication, communication. Have a daily, informal touch point with all staff.
  • Do this daily as information is changing daily.
  • Send out emails, memos, and policies. Post and send information about any new policies or practices. Staff should be trained as required.
  • Around your office, increase hygiene vigilance. This includes cleaning processes, hand sanitizer, safe hand washing practices and sanitizing wipes for desks and other frequently touched items. If you have office cleaners, ensure that they are paying special attention to elevator buttons, door handles, light switches and other common touch points.
  • Wash your hands, avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into your arm, and avoid skin-to-skin contact (refrain from shaking hands.)


Health Canada COVID-19 information center and advisories

World Health Organization COVID-19 guidance

Questions on How Your Company Can Prepare?

Our HR experts are ready to help you evaluate the risk and set up policies. More than human resources, PaymentEvolution supports the Human Experience for your staff. Send us a note:

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