Whether you’re going into work every day or telecommuting, COVID-19 is on the minds of everyone. Here are common questions many employees are asking.
Coronavirus and the Workplace Q&A
My company has been deemed essential, yet I feel uncomfortable going into work. Can I work from home?
The straight answer is no — your boss doesn’t have to allow you to telecommute. However, it often depends on what you do for the organization. If you work in a plant, you’ll have to report. However, if you’re in accounting or marketing, it’s possible to make a case to stay at home.
On the flip side, your boss is making everyone work remotely. Do you have to oblige?
Can my employer take my temperature at work?
Under normal circumstances, the answer would be no because taking your temp is considered part of a medical examination. However, because coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic, and fever is one of the three indicators of it, yes, an employer can require it at the start of your shift.
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What if I’m exposed to COVID-19 at work?
If you know a co-worker tested positive, your employer must allow you a 14-day self-quarantine period at home. If you can work remotely during this period, great. If not, you will have to check with HR about paid or unpaid leave options.
If I test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, must I tell my employer?
The legal answer is murky, but the ethical response is yes. We now know younger workers may have or can be carriers of coronavirus, but virtually have zero symptoms. As test kits become more available, it’s essential to receive it if you’ve been exposed.
What should I do if I’m laid off?
First, talk to your boss and ascertain if this is strictly due to the coronavirus. If the answer is yes, keep in touch with him or her every couple of weeks. Second, immediately file for unemployment. In Ohio, the process is moving at a faster pace than normal. Third, be sure to assess all your expenses and cut out the unnecessary ones immediately. Lastly, talk to your landlord, mortgage broker, and credit card companies if it is going to be difficult for you to make your payments. Don’t ignore your bills. Lending institutions have the interest to work with you on a payment plan, and they understand this crisis has left many individuals unemployed.
How can I keep mentally and emotionally healthy?
- Take breaks from watching or reading news stories.
- Consider trying meditation.
There are many apps you can download onto your phone, or you can subscribe to Mindful (many of their meditations are free), or download guided meditations or evideos from your local library. If you don’t have time for meditation, you can focus on your breathing by counting to four on the inhale, holding it for a couple of seconds, and exhaling the same count.
- Skype or call friends and family.
Staying connected helps with feelings of isolation.
- Do the activities you love.
Now you have time to read more books, do jigsaw puzzles, catch up on your streaming videos, or bake.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
This 5-minute activity can help keep positive thoughts flowing throughout the day.
- Get enough sleep.
Even if you are not sleeping consistently through the night, permit yourself to take a short nap if you are working from home.
How can I remain physically active now that group activities are frowned upon, and gyms are closed?
- You can walk, run, or bicycle.
As long as you adhere to social distancing (6 feet or higher) and the groups are under ten, you should be fine. Parks are becoming increasingly popular, so you may need to stay close to home.
- Do yoga.
Download programs from the library or live stream from subscription services like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
- Prep your garden area.
Rake out your patch and trim back trees and bushes.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal, CDC, and Fast Company
About Timothy Dimoff
Tim is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities in high-risk workplace and human resource issues. He is a speaker, author and consultant to human resource directors, law enforcement and the media, Dimoff has been called upon to examine evidence from crime scenes, victims and witness report to develop an offender profile.