Keep Calm and Carry On is a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The words are completely appropriate for business today in light of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus. While the panic is spreading more quickly and pervasively than the actual virus, there are some things you can do to prepare and protect your business.
Employees and their families get sick. This is universally true. Given some of the concerns over Coronavirus, sick employees may have greater impact on your business – particularly with the long incubation period of the virus. Your employees may have greater concerns about your sick leave policies (if you have them); and their absence may affect your bottom line.
As of January 1, 2020, Nevada has mandatory paid time off for employers who have more than 50 employees. Similarly, under federal law, if an employer has more than 50 employees, the employees are eligible to receive benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act. Thus, if you have more than 50 employees, those employees have mandatory benefits in the event of illness.
If you have fewer than 50 employees, you may still have economic impact. If your employees are too sick to work, or you are trying to prevent further infection, you will have to determine how to keep your business running in light of absenteeism. The CDC provides some guidance:
- Encourage sick employees to stay at home; and
- Encourage personal hygiene and perform environmental cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces.
As it relates directly to your business, create a business continuation plan (particularly if you are the one who gets sick). To the extent possible, cross-train employees. If your business would allow for remote work, put plans in place now to enable this.
Mostly, communicate with your employees so that expectations are managed and fears addressed. As you communicate with your employees, please be attentive to laws regarding privacy including the Americans with Disabilities Act and HIPAA.