Resilient to Risk
Direction Amid Pandemic Uncertainty
Planning for a pandemic is essential to preventing and slowing the spread of a virus and effectively continuing operations. Future pandemics may impact society differently than COVID-19. Employers’ preparedness, response, and control plans should take into account workplace factors such as feasibility of social distancing in the workplace, ability to stagger employee shifts, degree to which employees interact with the public in person and the feasibility of accomplishing work by remote communication.
Absenteeism presents a major challenge for employers during periods of illness. Workers should be aware of the exposure and risk level associated with their job duties. In addition, a pandemic may disproportionately affect people in certain age groups or with specific health histories. Senior managers should be continuously committed to emergency preparedness and business continuity planning. It is important to enlist company wide, top-down support. A crisis such as a flu pandemic can create confusion and panic among employees—and even senior managers. Employees will likely be impacted by mental health factors such as stress, depression and anxiety during this time. Employers must support them with the appropriate behavioral health resources. Managers and leaders must understand how to identify employees that may be experiencing these challenges.
The governing bodies including the Department of Labor issue unique protocols and employer requirements during these periods. For COVID-19 this included the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The act contained numerous provisions including the extension of time frames for participants and beneficiaries. Specifically, special enrollment opportunities, extension of COBRA elections and significant relief for plan participants. It is imperative that employers understand and follow this important guidance. If managed incorrectly, companies face the likelihood of costly participant lawsuits due to errors and omissions of critical procedures.
Our team helps clients plan, prepare and respond to emerging pandemics and disasters. Armed with the appropriate plan, leaders can respond in an orderly and rational way.