Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.

Business101: How to care for Covid-19 positive staff

By Ben Bierman Time of article published Jun 30, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Chances  of employees contracting coronavirus (Covid-19) have risen alongside the increasing numbers of positive cases in South Africa as more return to work. 

Businesses, therefore, need to be prepared for this occurrence. 

Below is a simple guide in the event of an employee testing positive; (please note, this is not a complete guide). Compliance Ensure the business is health and safety compliant: 

The government has provided rules for businesses under the various levels of lockdown. 

Health and physical distancing protocols include minimising the number of employees at the workplace at any given time and providing personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitisers that contain at least 70 percent alcohol. 

Screening Screen employees daily for symptoms through a survey or temperature checks. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following symptoms should be monitored; fever, dry cough, tiredness, difficulty breathing, aches and pains, sore throat and more. 

Isolation If an employee displays Covid-19 symptoms, restrict them from entering the workplace for a mandatory 14 days. Businesses will be responsible for transporting them safely to a testing facility or an area of self-isolation. If the employee has no sick leave days left, businesses should apply for illness benefit under the Covid-19 Temporary EmployerEmployee Relief Scheme. Notification Businesses are legally required to inform the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour of positive cases within the workplace. Provide administrative support required for contact-tracing measures. 

Decontamination Businesses are required to deep clean the area to avoid further spread of the virus and to protect the rest of the staff base. Ensure that the decontamination takes place as quickly as possible to avoid major disruption to operations. After cleaning with the more traditional water and soap-based products, WHO recommends applying a chemical disinfectant, such as chlorine or alcohol, to kill any remaining microorganisms. Shutdown Depending on the positive case, it may not be necessary to close your operation completely. 

Assess the risk and determine if the business needs to temporarily close using the government guidelines. Information Inform staff and clients by email, SMS or Zoom conference. Avoid panic and reassure all your stakeholders that the situation is under control. Discourage discrimination against the employee who has tested positive. Workload In the case where the employee is asymptomatic, explore the option of working remotely – an approach that may also help to remove the complication of calculating leave. 

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.

BUSINESS REPORT

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