Building your COVID-19 return to work safety plan. Employees worry their health and safety will be compromised but a strong safety plan can reassure them it’s safe to return.

The vast majority – 82 percent – of employers don’t feel adequately informed about the procedures that need to be in place to ensure a safe working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research by Humana Health Shield.  

And 75 percent of their employees agree. They aren’t confident about the return-to-work measures their employers have put in place and 68 percent feel their health and safety will be compromised at work when they return.

It’s paramount that employers are confident about the COVID-19 workplace safety measures they’ve put in place as many plan to return, soon. Nearly 60 percent of employers will be ready to welcome their staff back at the end of September and another 13 percent expect to bring employees back by the end of the year. 

In order to ensure a safe return, employers need to pay close attention to guidance from respected health and workplace protection agencies, revise sick leave policies and directly address worker concerns to reassure them that it is safe to return.

Building Your COVID-19 Return to Work Safety Plan

First, employers should familiarize themselves with two important resources, COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Employers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 from the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). These guidelines elaborate on effective ways employers can lower the risk of exposure at work and respond to employees who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19.

Then, it’s time for employers to revise their sick-leave policies. Just 22 percent of employers updated their sick-leave policies and only 19 percent updated communications policies for exposure. It helps that 67 percent of workers are willing to do daily symptom check-ins with their employer and 75 percent would be comfortable with employers tracking their symptoms.

Finally, employers need to address employee concerns about returning to work directly. Employees are worried their health and safety will be compromised when they return or that their employer hasn’t taken adequate safety precautions. They’re most concerned about their co-workers’ hygiene (17 percent), commuters (25 percent) and the workplace environment (21 percent). Over 70 percent of employees rank their co-workers as posing the single most significant COVID-19 transmission risk in the workplace. In order to address these concerns, almost nine in 10 employers have introduced new hygiene protocols, with 70 percent having changed the layout of their workplace.

“To avoid a devastating repeat of a prolonged, slow recession, Americans need the opportunity to return to work. Our data shows that there are two factors that will enable a fast and safe return to the workplace: one, clear communication between employers and workers, and two, technological solutions such as risk stratification and symptom tracking,” said Jessica Federer, Managing Director at Huma US. “As a country, we are resilient, and we will rebound. But it will take a collective effort of us working together across industries, combined with the smart application of technology to make it happen. Together, we can not only support the recovery of our economy and our businesses but the health and wellbeing of each and every person.”

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