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Should businesses let employees work from home during a COVID-19 outbreak?

HR expert says employers in organizations large and small have obligations to reduce infection risk for employees
coronavirus
(via Vancouver Coastal Health)

This article was supplied by University of Guelph news services:

Should businesses let employees work from home during a COVID-19 outbreak? What kinds of policies need to be in place? Should they require sick notes, or clean bills of health when employees return? The University of Guelph has an expert who can offer comment.

Prof. Nita Chhinzer is a professor of human resources in the Department of Management in U of G’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and specializes in human resources policy.

She says employers in organizations large and small have obligations to reduce infection risk for employees. But the uncertainty of the outbreaks raises several dilemmas for employers, including:  

  • how to handle employees returning from countries with outbreaks  
  • deciding if and how staff can work from home  
  • how to manage a “subculture of presenteeism” in which wage earners continue to come to work while ill 
  • how to ensure employees who take time off for illness are no longer a risk to other employees

“These are the challenges that organizations are struggling with,” Chhinzer said. “They have to manage their need to maintain safe workplaces while also sustaining their growth goals under the umbrella of employment law. So it’s a very complicated space for organizations.”

Chhinzer recently spoke to the National Post in which she suggested ideas for how employers can help wage earners who can’t afford to take time off.




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