As employers, we have been asked to address a range of new requests from employees as a result of the pandemic – and this will only continue as we prepare to return to on-site work. Team members are expressing health fears, general anxiety, concern for their loved ones, care giving challenges, transportation issues, among many more. We can get ready now to reduce the potential influx of “work refusals”.
Here are some tips to get started:
COVID-19 has introduced new legal requirements for employers, new job-protected leaves for employees (see the attached addendum for more information), as well as new safety and wellness requirements. It’s essential for managers to understand and abide by:
Outline how your organization is monitoring the situation, identity who is on your Pandemic Response Team and how you’re complying with the safety guidelines set out by local public health agencies, Public Health Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Share your plan with employees and leaders. Keep updating it with best practices and new ideas to support your organization during this pandemic (for future reference).
To request a copy of our Pandemic Plan, or our Workbook for Return to Work, email HRTopics@excelHR.com.
The COVID-19 Health and Safety Team will be dedicated to the following responsibilities:
Be sure to include all new policies and procedures introduced as a result of COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to, the responsibilities of the H&S team as listed above. (Note that this can be an addendum to your existing policy)
It’s important to note that the Ministry of Labour is investigating all complaints related to workplace health and safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Ministry of Labour is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario to provide support, advice and enforcement, as needed. If you face a work refusal, you will be required to show your COVID-19 related H&S policies.
Here is an overview of the Work Refusal Process, as outline by the Ministry of Labour.
Training for leaders and employees will be crucial to maintain safety protocols as people return to working on-site. Best practices for effective training includes PowerPoint or graphic presentation of safety protocols, videos displaying how to move and behave back in the office, and written training with a quiz to ensure retention of information. Training elements should include:
There are varying degrees of excitement, uncertainty and fear surrounding the circumstances of RTW. In your survey, seek input about:
Ideally, the survey would be mandatory, and help build the ideal plan for the company going forward. For a copy of our RTW Survey, email HRTopics@excelHR.com.
While you may already be communicating often and openly with your team members, make this one call just about them and what their personal circumstances are:
This may be someone on your HR Team, a good listener who can be a shoulder to lean on during harder days under COVID-19. They would be available to team members struggling with emotional wellness either at home, while in the office, or both. Appointing a neutral party that isn’t a team member’s direct manager may help create engagement around mental health.
Develop a solid two-way communication plan and put it in your schedule, and the employee’s schedule in advance. Consider pre-scheduling management communication, team communication for the advancement of issues and business, team communication for social and engagement, and one-on-one learning and training.
Ensure that you know your responsibilities as an employer in finer detail than ever before. Employment laws and legislation related to COVID-19 are changing constantly, and need a continuous review, understanding and implementation. Items to review include:
Seeking legal advice is always advisable when human rights and ESA are part of an employer’s response and management of an issue under COVID-19.