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Tips for managing employees during COVID-19

Employee feeling unwell

Managing employees during the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging as many symptoms under the umbrella for COVID-19 can also be symptoms of a cold, allergy or flu. It is essential to follow a few specific steps to protect the health of your employees and customers.

First step: Assess an employee with symptoms

  • Is the employee showing signs of COVID-19? Use your province’s online Self-Assessment Tool, listed by Health Canada to determine if the symptoms are related to COVID-19. 
  • Has the employee had close contact with someone with COVID-19?
  • Was the employee travelling in recent days?

If YES is the answer to any of these questions, ask the employee to leave the workplace right away, get tested, and self-isolate for 14 days. 

When the test result is positive, you need to:

  • Report it to the province within four days
  • Notify your company’s health and safety committee or representative
  • Contact the local Public Health Unit to discuss next steps
  • Ask your employee to track their recent contacts as this will help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Second step: Assess the level of exposure

If the employee has been in the workplace, were they around other employees or customers? If yes, then you should:

  • Evacuate the workplace, talk to your staff (without identifying the employee in question) and explain the evacuation is a preventive measure. 
  • Clean and disinfect the exposed premises. Ensure no one uses the space to give the disinfectant time to take effect. 
  • Re-assess your risk and review your safety plan.
  • Implement an internal communication strategy so that employees are aware of measures being taken to manage the situation and keep them informed about their return to work.

Third step: Recall and re-educate employees

  • Review the company policies to ensure that the incident does not happen again.
  • Clearly communicate that all staff must take necessary hygiene precautions such as effective handwashing, social distancing, avoiding travel to affected areas, and meeting with infected or potentially infected people.

During the pandemic, remember that:

  • Employees can refuse work if they reasonably believe there is a dangerous condition in the workplace or that work constitutes a danger to their health. If this happens, employers must respond by carrying out an investigation and, if applicable, take action to eliminate the danger. Contact your provincial health and safety department right away to request a ruling on the safety status of your workplace.
  • Where possible, implement a work from home policy so employees can continue their tasks in a remote setting.

CFIB is ready to answer CFIB members’ questions about managing employees through the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact a CFIB Business Counsellor at 1-888-234-2232 or [email protected]