The Coronavirus challenges workplace wellness.

Last Updated on March 17, 2020

Be Cautious, keep HR protocol in mind.

With the spread of the infamous Coronavirus to 24 countries, Employers should be on their HR toes in order to navigate how to handle this in the workplace. The news of the virus has employers cautious about ways to protect their workers and organizations during what many have declared a global emergency. (World Health Organization)

So how serious is it? There have been more than 20,000 confirmed cases; with the vast majority of the cases in China. There is no vaccine at this time.

How could the Coronavirus affect the workplace?

Employers worried about the virus will want to help employees stay clear of it. But be aware of unintentional discrimination against people. Employers need to be careful about making presumptions and they need to continue to treat all employees the same. Because the virus originated from China, employers could wrongly presume that people who are Chinese have a higher risk of exposure to the virus.

Be aware, too, of not discriminating against people with any virus. Attempts to make sure employees are well-enough to return to work need to be legally compliant.

If you’re unsure how to handle the situation, work with your HR Specialist within your company and refer to the company handbook as well.

 “The immediate health risk from the Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) is considered low” for members of the general American public who are unlikely to be exposed to the virus, the CDC said.

What if you travel for work?

With global travel for work fairly common, caution needs to be taken. Stay aware of news from your airline and airport in regard to any health safety announcements.

One thing to note is that U.S. Department of State issued a “do not travel” advisory to China on Jan. 30. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines announced Jan. 31 they were suspending service to China after the state department elevated its travel advisory to warning level 4, its most serious ranking. The length of the flight ban varies with the airline, according to The New York Times.

Communicate the facts moving forward.

It’s important that employers communicate quickly with employees during an epidemic. The virus is similar to the common cold in that it is spread by droplets that often are transmitted when a person coughs or sneezes.

The virus has an incubation period of at least two weeks, and health authorities believe infected people can spread the virus before they begin to show symptoms, increasing the likelihood that they will pass the illness to others. Washing your hands may decrease the chance that the virus will spread.

The health risk to individuals depends on duration of exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


For more questions regarding workplace wellness or other HR questions, contact MyHRConcierge at (855) 538-6947.