How should employers respond to the spread of the new COVID-19 variant?

How should employers respond to the spread of the new COVID-19 variant?

Just as companies were moving back to the office, the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, began its rapid spread. Employers are now faced with new challenges as Omicron is even more contagious than the other COVID-19 variants.

The good news is the workplace is well versed in protecting their employees and returning to strict COVID-19 safety protocols because we have done it before. Many workplaces are well equipped with ready-to-use health and safety policies, remote work policies, vaccination mandates to keep their team safe, and much more.

To limit the spread of Omicron, employers should initiate these policies as soon as possible. First, employers should re-establish remote working conditions. Omicron is extremely contagious and is spreading quickly. If the workplace allows, employers should limit employee contact and allow them to work from the comfort of their own homes. As we know, limiting contact with others is the best way to control the spread.

Employers should also recommend that employees receive the new booster vaccine. It is important that employers continue to mandate or strongly encourage first and second doses if employees have not yet received them. Throughout the past few months, employers have become aware of how difficult it has been to mandate complete vaccination status at the workplace, so encouraging a third will have its challenges. There are employers and institutions in the USA who have added a third dose to their vaccination mandates, but Ontario has not yet introduced these measures. Presently, Ontario is solely encouraging the booster shot, as this dose has just become available to individuals eighteen years or older beginning December 20, 2021.

If remote work is not possible for your workplace, continuing with the safety precautions we have been practicing throughout the spread of COVID-19 will be critical. Remaining persistent with mask mandates, social distancing, regular cleaning, sanitizing etc. will need to continue with consistent intensity.

Moving forward, because COVID-19 information and protocols are rapidly changing, it is important to keep your employees informed. If your employees feel well briefed on the upcoming changes, the necessary transitions will likely be implemented more smoothly.

Further, as an employer it is also important to consider how these changes may be affecting the employees and their performance. Providing mental health assistance at this point in the pandemic should become fundamental. Many employees will be struggling with this setback. It is crucial that they feel as though they can continue to persist and improve even though the finish line in our universal battle to fight COVID-19 may seem out of reach.

If you are an employer and have questions about implementing COVID-19 policies, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.