Dear Members,

The last couple of weeks have been traumatic for all of us given the COVID-19 pandemic. I am sure many of you and your organisations have been working hard to manage this challenge. This is a very dynamic situation and it is changing everyday given the spread of the pandemic, as well as Government regulations and responses. While your local chapters are best placed to give you the local and current information, based on our discussion with our members, the gist of HR action for prevention of COVID 19 are as under:

(A) Travel:

  • Employees who have travelled overseas to quarantine themselves for 14 days (or even if their close relatives have travelled). Avoid all international travel

  • Adhere to the most recent travel advisory, including intercity and local as well. Adopt social distancing practices as appropriate

(B) Communication:

  • Cascade only authentic / verified information. Refer to the credible resources for updates:

    https://www.cipd.asia/news/coronavirus-faqs-for-employers /

  •  Assure employees of every effort to support (ref. IRDAI Notification)

  • Enhance communication on importance of handwash, spread information on need to wash with soap regularly

  • Posters checking how employees are feeling, and advising them to immediately report any illness. Their role in controlling transmission could be enhanced.

  • Disaster Management SOPs readied & cascaded to relevant stakeholders. Some organisations have split their teams into two groups- taking turns to work from home, so that they are prepared in case of any eventuality

  • Issue an official statement - sample draft below:

"As more cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world and within India, we need to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of this virus within the workplace. Taking into account business continuity plans and preparing for biological threats, do consider the following preventive measures: actively encourage sick employees to stay home, send symptomatic employees home until they are able to return to work safely, and ensure employees returning from high-risk areas work-from-home during the incubation period. As with any widespread virus, bacterium or other biological threat, we should take care to protect our workers as well as future business operations. We shall continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak closely, following guidance from the World Health Organization, the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, India's national health agency, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By following these important precautions and by planning ahead, we can help contain and prevent the spread of coronavirus."

(C) Work from Home (WFH):

While most companies are allowing unlimited WFH, there is an issue of frontline sales people whose role makes it difficult to WFH. Companies are taking calls as appropriate for this group based on local situation. With schools closed, many employees with young children have chosen WFH, which is strongly recommended, where possible.

  • Opt for virtual meetings wherever possible. Postpone large gatherings / events / meetings. Governments across the world are effectively using ‘lockdowns’ to contain the spread of the virus. Do plan for an eventuality of a potential lockdown in your area for a week or two- how would your remote working routine work in such a situation? 

  • Extend flexibility in terms of illness / absence policy

(D) Hygiene precautions:

  • Hygiene of office / factory premises in focus. promoting handwash

  • Monitor workplace behaviour / enforcing a ‘no handshake policy’ in general etc. 

  • Advise everyone to be considerate. For instance, wear a mask / stay indoors in case one is feeling under the weather

  • Be aware – of symptoms, precautions, etc.

  • Be cautious – encourage colleagues to take precaution / practice hand hygiene etc.

We are also proposing a webinar on 18th March, 2020 from 1600 hrs to 1700 hrs. The webinar will be led by Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery and Director, Institute of Robotic Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi

If there is suggestion or advice or a good practice that you would like to share, do email us at dhananjay.singh@nationalhrd.org. We will all have to work together to tide over this huge challenge. 

Warm regards,

National President
National HRD Network