With all the welcome information we have found over the past weeks about how to prepare for and deal with a pandemic, there seems to have been precious little guidance for business people, so we were pleased to read an article by Thomas Steinbrenner in McKnight’s Senior Living. (Find the full article here: https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/columns/marketplace-columns/your-liability-if-employees-test-positive-for-coronavirus/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MSL_DailyBriefing_20200319&hmSubId=9FJmuzk6jog1&hmEmail=p9mL0JQ8usAZFn0fScpuQIxRzaKMAy-5lktOd9L_vG01&email_hash=88abf056436633eef3326356ccb278b8&mpweb=1326-8330-548592)
The column was headlined “Your liability if employees test positive for coronavirus,” but it covered much more so we wanted to share it with our readers.
Read the entire column if you’d like, but we thought the key elements were at the end, when he answered the question “What can employers do right now?”
Steinbrenner had four great suggestions:
1. Write an emergency preparedness plan. If you don’t already have one, name a working group of employees from across your organization to create a business continuity, emergency preparedness and even pandemic reaction plan. Consider business interruption issues specific to your business and location and establish procedures that can be enacted on a moment’s notice.
2. Report claims immediately. Time is of the essence. Exposure and potential claims, whether workers’ compensation or business interruption, need to be submitted as early as possible. Doing so will allow for a thorough and efficient review of the case and all coverage scenarios. As with any other local state of emergency, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, claims have the potential to get backed up.
3. Review policies. Carefully analyze your current policies with your broker, both primary and excess. This analysis will reveal whether an event such as this one is covered by your insuring agreements, and which exclusions apply to your specific policies. Many factors will determine whether a claim will be covered, including the type of loss, the type of coverage, and the terms and conditions of specific policies. Knowing your coverage up front will take the guesswork of the process.
4. Take precautions with sick employees. It goes without saying (almost) that employees who may have been exposed to the virus should be sent straight to a physician to be tested (calling first), and should be allowed to return to work only if test results come back negative. Require employees waiting for test results to remain at home until a negative result is official. Be open with your other staff members about anyone awaiting test results. Let them know that they have been tested and that the results were negative, if that’s the case.
He concludes “How COVID-19 fully will play out on U.S. soil over the coming months is unknown. What we do know is that it is very likely that every domestic business will be affected. It is time to prepare for a potential business interruption or employee quarantine issue now ahead of potential liability.”
We couldn’t agree more!