Coronavirus (COVID-19): Necessary Measures to Protect Company’s Employees and Business
The effects of the outbreak caused by virus COVID-19 have already started to be felt in companies’ business, more and more organizations choosing to take measures for prevention of the spread of this virus and for protection of their employees, by adjusting their business to the crisis situation.
Please find below some useful measures that any company can implement to limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its business.
Determination of a work group for handling the implications associated to COVID-19
Pursuant to the national law, any employer must ensure the security and health of its workers in all aspects related to work, including by determining a work group for handling the implications associated to COVID-19. For such a purpose, any employee may resort either to the appointment of one or more workers from the company, which have the necessary competences, or to external services.
One of the main responsibilities of the work group for handling the implications associated to COVID-19 is the mandatory communication that any responsible company must have with its employees, against the background of spread of the new virus COVID-19.
The work group so appointed must be able to provide support to the company’s employees in connection to:
- Information about the areas where there are outbreaks of coronavirus, about the areas with risk of infection and about the areas where sporadic cases of infection with this new virus have been reported;
- The necessity to authorize the state of quarantine at a national or local level or at the company’s level, if such a measure is required;
- The required sanctions, in case of failure to comply with the quarantine measures;
- The means to obtain medical leave, in case of suspicion of infection with coronavirus or in case of its confirmation;
- The definition of COVID-19 case, which may be seen by accessing the webpage of the National Institute of Public Health (Institutul Național de Sănătate Publică) at this link;
- The list of regions and localities from the red area and the yellow area with transmission of COVID-19, which may be seen by accessing the webpage of the National Institute of Public Health (Institutul Național de Sănătate Publică) at this link;
- Ensuring permanent dialogue with the Public Health Directorate (Direcția de Sănătate Publică), as well as with other authorities involved in the process of avoidance of COVID-19.
Measures to be potentially ordered by any employer, at the recommendation of the work group
Considering any employer’s obligation to ensure the health of its workers as regards work-related aspects, but also the necessity to adjust its activity to the imminent crisis situation, any employer may request the company’s employees to comply with certain measures for the prevention and limitation of infections with the new coronavirus COVID-19.
Among these, the most important are:
- Measures of sanitizing of common areas, offices and working equipment;
- Personal hygiene measures;
- Restrictive measures, of reduction of travels or even their annulment for the areas affected by the outbreak, or the change of the means of conducting of business.
For example, if the employees need to travel to states where a low number of cases of infection with COVID-19 has been reported, these may be advised to comply with the personal hygiene measures, but, if they need to travel to the seriously affected areas, areas with coronavirus infection outbreaks, such as Wuhan from China or Veneto and Lombardy from Italy, the company may demand such employees to even annul such travels.
Any company shall inform its employees also of the quarantine measures ordered by the legal provisions. Thus, by providing the employees also at their workplaces with the information regarding the necessity to adopt the measure of quarantine, in case of fulfillment of the conditions provided by the law, respectively regarding the sanctions that may occur in case of non-fulfillment of the measures imposed for the diminution of the spread of the infection, the employer adopts a measure of limitation of the spread of the infection with the new virus and of protection of its own employees.
Implementation of the home work within companies
Considering the current information, the peak of the spread of the new virus has not been reached yet in Romania, for which reason it is recommended that the employers test and then implement the home work system, to limit the impact that the infection with coronavirus could have at the level of their business. We remind that, globally, numerous companies have implemented such a system, as a proof of social responsibility, but also to ensure their own employees’ protection.
The home work system represents a middle ground solution for the conducting of the company’s business in crisis conditions and for the protection of the employees’, but also of the community’s health. At the same time, the measure implies certain aspects that any employee must take into account when deciding to apply this solution.
In the case of companies with a large number of employees who will use the home work system, any employer must have in view the fact that its implementation may require special equipment for ensuring the simultaneous functioning of tens or even hundreds of personal computers in a short time interval. It is also advisable that any employer should have IT personnel to coordinate and reinstate the aspects related to the IT systems and to make backups of the data and documents of the company, to which employees should have access when working from home.
Requalification of Employees’ Roles
At the same time, any employer must take into account the unpredictable aspects that may occur in crisis situations, such as the occurrence of new activities incumbent on the employees, in a large number, which may exceed their competences. To this end, any employer may requalify the employees’ roles within the teams, prioritize their tasks and add new resources, for the compliant conducting of the company’s activity.
Process of Communication with the Employees
Last, but not least, no employer should neglect the personal aspects the employees may be facing. Given that the home work system implies a diminution of social relations and, consequently, a decrease of the degree of productivity within the company, the employer shall have the responsibility to get involved in the improvement of the means of communication, in the settlement of the possible complaints from employees and their differences.
Moreover, to the extent to which the spread of COVID-19 virus reaches levels requiring maximum limitation of the employees’ presence at their workplaces, taking into account the nature of the activity performed within the company and the possibility to implement the home work system, the employer shall identify action measures to determine the critical number of persons that need to be present at the workplace.