Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and increasingly person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United Kingdom. However, respiratory illnesses like seasonal influenza, are currently widespread in many UK communities.
The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, Rapid Personnel will use only the interim guidance described below to determine risk of COVID-19. We will not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and will be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-19. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features of COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
Rapid Personnel will:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify Rapid Personnel and stay home if they are sick.
- Our sick leave policy is flexible and consistent with public health guidance and will be sent to all employees to ensure awareness of this policy.
- We will talk with companies and clients where we provide temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
- We will not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
- We will maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
- Separate sick employees:
- We recommend that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
- Emphasise staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees:
- We will place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to our workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
- Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
- Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning:
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
- No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
- Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
- Advise employees before travelling to take certain steps:
- Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify Rapid Personnel and stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure employees who become sick while travelling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify Rapid Personnel and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
- If outside the United Kingdom, sick employees should follow our company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A UK consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, UK embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private UK citizens overseas.
- Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify Rapid Personnel and refer to government guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality. Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Categories: Rapid Insights