The pandemic has brought hard times for businesses, and the stress goes beyond only sustaining their sales and operations. They are also struggling as employers because the situation has made them vulnerable to employment lawsuits. Thankfully, the Canadian government is doing its bit to help businesses recover and stay safe from civil claims for COVID-19 exposure liability.
According to Bill 218 announced recently by the Ontario provincial government, employers are not liable for people being infected at their workplace if they have made a good-faith effort for compliance with public health guidance. Once the bill becomes law, you can stay safe with some practical steps to comply with the guidelines. Here are the ones you can start following right now.
Keep track of changing guidelines
If you want to stay on the right side of the law, you need to be extra conscious about staying ahead of the guidelines. It can get a bit tricky, considering that you will have to keep track of them because they keep changing time and again. Moreover, implementing COVID-19 guidance from federal, provincial, and municipal is easier said than done. But the effort is worthwhile because it ensures the safety of your employees and a smooth sail for your business.
Document your initiatives
Protecting your business from litigation becomes a tad easier if you have proper records. Documenting your initiatives to comply with the recommended COVID-19 protocols is a viable measure to protect your organization from liability. Having a written COVID-19 Safety Plan is the best place to start. Ensure that it documents the policies and procedures you have in place to curb the risk of exposure in the workplace.
Have clear and formal processes
A crisis of this magnitude requires clear and formal processes that can eliminate confusion and maintain order for your organization. Ensure that you have a formal process for reporting infection if an employee gets infected. Consulting a Toronto Employment Lawyer before establishing a process is a good idea as experts can guide you about the legal aspects such as leaves and benefits for the sick employees. Revisit and realign regular operational processes such as remote meetings and doorstep delivery for extra safety.
Ensure clear communication
Signage and communication are vital to establishing that you have made the best efforts to curb infection among your employees as an employer. Place visible signage for aspects such as physical distancing rules, workstation protocols, restrictions regarding the use of communal areas, and cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas such as washrooms, elevators, and meeting rooms.
Invest in employee training
Apart from communicating information, you can go the extra mile with employee safety training during the pandemic. Conduct training sessions to educate employees on possible COVID-19 transmission points at work so that people can avoid them and prevent the spread of infection. Ensure that the information gets through in an easy-to-understand form. Including graphics and visual presentations is a good initiative.
The pandemic has opened up unprecedented risks for employers. Ones who aren’t proactive with the compliance of COVID-19 safety protocols can expect to face litigation if employees get sick. Moreover, such a situation can result in the loss of productivity and lower employee morale. So it is vital to do everything possible to keep your employees and workplace safe from the virus.