What To Do If A Canadian Employee Has COVID-19 Or Symptoms?

Man sneezes. Is sneezing a symptom of COVID?

The Coronavirus pandemic shone a light on the importance of protecting the health and safety of your employees. As the world is now beginning to slowly get back to a resemblance of normality after being forced into a state of standstill, the question on many employers’ lips is what are the correct protocols to take if an employee shows signs of Coronavirus symptoms or tests positive for the virus. 

COVID-19 is by no means defeated and will pose a threat to your employees’ wellbeing for potentially months, if not years, to come. For this reason, it is vital that all business owners have a procedure in place to mitigate health risks in the workplace and a contingency plan in the event that an employee becomes ill. 

Is Your Employee Having COVID-Like Symptoms?

In the past, you may not have batted an eyelid if an employee had the sniffles or was coughing at their desk. These days are long gone. Now that everyone has a heightened awareness of the telltale signs of COVID-19, what may be in reality a simple cold or allergies will cause major discomfort and unease in the workplace environment. 

It’s now both the responsibility of the employer and the employee to take the right precautions if they are displaying symptoms or signs of COVID-19. As a business, you must provide directions to your employees on what steps should be taken both in the office or when working remotely if they begin having COVID-like symptoms. 

Steps To Take In The Canadian Workplace

In the event that an employee arrives to work with symptoms or becomes sick during the day, it is the responsibility of the employer to immediately separate the employee in question from other coworkers and send them home. 

Both the employer and employee must then take the following steps: 

  • Consult the relevant public health authority for guidance in regards to what to do next
  • Employees who are suspected to have COVID-19 must get tested and self-isolate for the mandatory two week period
  • Employers should close off the area in which the employee was working and wait 24 hours, if possible, before cleaning and disinfecting the area to minimize the potential for other employees to be exposed to respiratory droplets. If your business is a retail store or restaurant, it may be necessary to close down the premises until it has been deemed safe to reopen 
  • All employees who may have come into contact with the infected employee should be notified and directed in regard to the next steps that need to be taken. This may involve employees having to work remotely and practising social distancing for two weeks
  • If working in an office environment that shares space with other companies, the employer must notify the relevant company owners to notify of potential exposure to COVID-19
  • If the employee is off past their statutory sick days and is not being paid, they may be entitled to CERB

Steps To Take If Remote

If you are an employer that has embraced the idea of your team continuing to work remotely if they don’t have a need to return to the office, you may have a little more peace of mind knowing that you can minimize the impact of one employee infecting another. 

However, there are still steps that you need to take if an employee begins experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms. We’ve listed these below: 

  • Provide all employees with a communication protocol to follow if they believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone that has tested positive
  • Be transparent with all employees regarding a suspected case of COVID-19 among a team member
  • Make sure that all employees feel supported during this time especially if it means a heavier workload 
  • Continue to educate employees on the importance of washing their hands correctly and wearing the correct protective clothing when out in public areas
  • Your employee may be entitled to CERB if they need to take time off due to COVID-19

Health & Safety Regulations: Why It Is Important To Update Them Now More Than Ever Before

The topic of health and safety has never been hotter than it is right now. All employers will be required to take a hard look at the health and safety protocols and policies that have in the workplace. As we all know, coworking with others will never be the same again.

So, for this reason, you must ensure that the regulations you have in place are up to date and incorporate procedures for keeping every employee safe. 

While business owners will need to think about the correct way policies surrounding cleaning and sick days will need to be implemented, they must also think about training their employees on health and safety matters. Health and safety training is vital for all employees so that they can follow procedures correctly to keep themselves and others safe. 

Stay Health & Safety Compliant With Training Company 

Nobody can say for certain what the workplace environment will look like over the coming months or whether working remotely will become the norm. While employers and employees learn how to navigate this new landscape, it is important that health and safety are always kept in front of mind. 

While you will never be able to truly prevent an employee from being exposed to COVID-19 in or outside the workplace, there are measures that can be put in place to mitigate and prevent workplace hazards.

Here at the Training Company, we offer a series of online training courses that are focused on bringing your employees up to speed on the latest health and safety updates as outlined by OHSA. Whether that is fire safety awareness, WHMIS or first aid. 

Interested in learning more about how we can help your company prepare for returning to work post-COVID? Get in touch with our team and we’ll talk you through the courses we have available.