How to prepare for COVID-19 in your business
Businesses should plan how to decrease the spread COVID-19 during the pandemic. We recommended the following strategies.
Urge employees, particularly sick ones, to stay home.
- Employees with a fever or who show symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home.
- Don’t require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness.
- Encourage all employees to protect themselves:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
Implement social distancing.
- All employees should telework as much as possible.
- Apply social distancing methods:
- Offer flexible work hours.
- Stagger work schedules.
- Avoid contact like handshakes or high-fives. Maintain 6 feet of separation.
- Remove large work-related gatherings like conferences or staff meetings.
- Meet via phone or electronically, rather than in-person.
Ensure your sick leave policies are up to date.
- Understand Washington’s paid sick leave law.
- Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for themselves or a sick family member.
- Review policies to ensure your sick leave policies and practices are consistent with public health guidance.
- Explore whether you can establish policies and practices like flexible worksites (telework) and flexible work hours to distance employees.
- Establish a process to communicate information to employees and business partners.
Prepare for increased absences.
- Monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace. Implement plans to continue essential business functions in the event you experience high levels of absent employees.
- Cross-train staff to perform essential functions so your business can operate even if key staff members are absent.
- Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
- Consider canceling non-essential business travel to other countries per CDC’s travel guidance.
Notify employees of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, notify employees of their potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Make sure you maintain confidentiality, as required by the Americans with Disability Act.