COVID Pandemic to Endemic?
What Employers Need to Know
Lately, clients have been asking us when the COVID-19 pandemic will end and life will return to normal. The truth is, we may already be in the “new normal,” or at least, very close to it.
Recent studies and publications have shown us that COVID-19 is most likely around for the long-haul, moving the status of COVID-19 from Pandemic to Endemic. Though we all may have assumed that COVID-19 would eventually die out, we are learning that may not be the case. According to an article on CNBC, Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, claims, “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away…..We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever.”
COVID-19 is thought to be very similar to the flu, with different strains being discovered and peak seasons occurring during colder months. Yes, now we have vaccinations circulating throughout the country, but realistically, not everyone in the country will get vaccinated. We also don’t know yet how effective the vaccine is, particularly as the virus continues to mutate.
What Does This Mean for Your Business?
Policies put into place at the outset of the pandemic, originally thought to be temporary, will likely remain in place for the unforeseen future. The Control of Infectious Disease Policy, for example, was not meant to be a permanent handbook addition, but due to the drastic impact of COVID-19 and the likelihood of it being around for years to come, this policy among others will remain in place.
The infectious disease policy coincides with updated sick policies where employees are instructed to stay home when feeling under the weather or experiencing symptoms, including but not limited to fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Prior to COVID-19, employees would often come to work sick because they did not want to miss work or because a lack of sick time didn’t allow for them to remain home. The presence of COVID-19 holds employers liable if employees infect one-another while on site. This, in combination with changing state regulations, is making Paid Sick Leave less of an anomaly and more of a new norm.
Some companies may have to rethink and revise their sick policies to allow for a more generous amount of paid sick time. This time will help to cover employees that may be sick, may have to care for someone who is sick, or may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are required to quarantine until test results are received.
Social distancing protocols will also remain in place for the long run. Employees will need to be separated, at least 6ft apart, or by physical barriers. High touch surfaces and equipment will continue to require constant sanitation. Areas in the office that may have been constantly crowded in the past, such as meeting rooms, bathrooms, and breakrooms will continue to have a limited capacity. Everyone’s favorite new accessory, you guessed it, masks will also be sticking around.
Is Working Remotely Really Worth It?
Remote work will likely still be best practice if your business can allow for it. Some companies may be slowly starting to bring employees back to the office, but it will still be the best practice to keep employees that are capable of working remotely outside of the office. If employees are needed physically in the office, employers should consider creating a rotating schedule for employees to be in the house in order to keep office capacity to a minimum.
Many people across the country were hopeful that the new year would lead us back to the normal life that many are craving. Realistically, there is no guarantee that life will be as “free” as it was before COVID-19 came into our lives. For that reason, EnformHR is here and willing to help. We stay up-to-date on COVID-19 regulations and policies and are here to help! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 534-7844.