Home News Brownrigg: There’s an HR Storm Brewing As COVID 4th Wave Looms

Brownrigg: There’s an HR Storm Brewing As COVID 4th Wave Looms

Brownrigg: There’s an HR Storm Brewing As COVID 4th Wave Looms

Now imagine having to run a business and implement health and safety policy for your employees and customers when a historic pandemic wasn’t even a blip on the radar when the rules governing such things were written.

The divide is real — and it’s a complicated time with the possibility of a fourth COVID-19 wave around the corner. We need clarity and cohesion. As an advisor to many companies, I empathize with small businesses that don’t even have a human resource department. They’ve already been through so much.

That said, “winging it” could open oneself up to liability issues. Health and Safety is important.

As the provinces enter various stages of business reopening we’re seeing a concerning trend. The federal government and public health units have yet to take a stand about mandating vaccinations for all, or even some, employees. That leaves businesses and consumers to figure this out on their own.

The result is that we are seeing a pack mentality with elements of hostility and fear. If you’re within the pack, you had better play by the rules or risk getting kicked out. If you’re outside of the pack, you’re the enemy and not to be trusted. This is hardly the way to develop sound workplace policy.

Now, more than ever, we need to pull together to find common-ground solutions before acting. Organizations have been affected in many ways. A business reintegration strategy is not a one-size fits all approach.

Essentially, we have been building the airplane while it’s flying. We need to put our heads together if we’re going to protect the safety and wellbeing of our community.

There are landmines of privacy law and employment law considerations. Leaders have to make decisions about situations for which there are no straightforward answers.

In many cases, human resources have been stretched to the limit, for those who even have HR staff. New policies have been written and adjustments made to ensure health and safety programs are adapted accordingly

To effectively navigate the landmines associated with employment law and privacy considerations employers need a customized strategy to ensure a reasonable approach to the application of health and safety measures.

If an employee does not wish to divulge their vaccination status, for example, is there an occupational requirement for them to be vaccinated? That’s an enormous question and requires leadership from governments and public health organizations. Without that, all we can do is demonstrate an effort for those positions deemed to be “safety sensitive.” I’ve never found a uniformed edict helpful.

In all other circumstances, we have the opportunity to create customized solutions that involve reallocating workers and/or reassigning work in ways to help managers navigate the unique circumstances.

Most importantly, that means referring to the employment law considerations. That can mean everything from accommodation and privacy requirements to changes to workplace location or an employee’s schedule and agreed upon job duties

Next, a communications and engagement strategy is the critical component of any reintegration strategy. It provides workers with the opportunity to make their challenges and concerns known. This strengthens work culture, increases employee engagement and boosts productivity and loyalty over the long run.

Confidential surveys, where anonymity is guaranteed for all team members, is a useful tool to understand their preferences for workspace design/location and other factors affecting their workplace wellness.

When you anticipate there will be situations of competing human rights, where demands for information about safety protocols might infringe upon privacy rights and/or human rights, consider implementing a policy on competing human rights.

In the meantime, let’s have conversations and share ideas and best practices and continue to advocate to the federal government and public health units for a clear and cohesive approach.

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