This post on Coronavirus (COVID-19) was originally published on 5 February 2020, and has been further updated on 11 March 2020.
The World Health Organisation has declared that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in China constitutes a public health emergency of international concern – as of 11 March 2020 it is affecting 119 countries and territories so far. The global number of confirmed cases has surpassed 115,000, including five confirmed cases here in New Zealand.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires businesses to mitigate health and safety risks and protect their workers from them, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Employers should consider what extra measures you take to protect your employees in a pandemic, and put appropriate plans in place as it may affect your ability to plan your business.
Coronavirus – employers should consider the following:
- How you will maintain your essential services or activities with high numbers of staff absence over an extended period.
- How will you manage additional sick leave entitlements, self-isolation/quarantine (whether this is compulsory or voluntary) and the potential for school closures?
- What essential goods and services you rely on and how you will manage any disruptions to supply.
- How you can implement alternative work practices in your workplace? For example, social distancing measures, remote working capability.
- What services will need additional support to meet a surge in demand? For example, IT support services.
- How you can protect your workers and reduce the risk of spread of the pandemic influenza virus in your workplace? For example, providing hand sanitiser and tissues, encouraging employees to take sick leave if they feel unwell, requiring employees to disclose travel to affected countries.
We advise you to closely monitor a trusted source of information about the virus. The Ministry of Health is publishing regular updates in regards to symptoms and health advice here.
- Coronavirus – Practical Tips for Employers (by Bell Gully)
- Coronavirus – Employment Impacts on Employers (by Quigg Partners)
With the impact of coronavirus changing day by day, it is essential to have a plan or framework in place to ensure your organisation can respond quickly if needed.
If you have a pandemic plan already, it is time to dust it off and review?
Or if you would like assistance with this, please contact us.