COVID-19 Information for Businesses

How to prepare for COVID-19 in your business

Businesses should plan how to decrease the spread COVID-19 during the pandemic. We recommended the following strategies.

Urge employees, particularly sick ones, to stay home.

  • Employees with a fever or who show symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home.
  • Don’t require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness.
  • Encourage all employees to protect themselves:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

Implement social distancing.

  • All employees should telework as much as possible.
  • Apply social distancing methods:
    • Offer flexible work hours.
    • Stagger work schedules.
    • Avoid contact like handshakes or high-fives. Maintain 6 feet of separation.
    • Remove large work-related gatherings like conferences or staff meetings.
    • Meet via phone or electronically, rather than in-person.

Ensure your sick leave policies are up to date.

  • Understand Washington’s paid sick leave law. 
  • Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for themselves or a sick family member.
  • Review policies to ensure your sick leave policies and practices are consistent with public health guidance.
  • Explore whether you can establish policies and practices like flexible worksites (telework) and flexible work hours to distance employees.
  • Establish a process to communicate information to employees and business partners.

Prepare for increased absences.

  • Monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace. Implement plans to continue essential business functions in the event you experience high levels of absent employees.
  • Cross-train staff to perform essential functions so your business can operate even if key staff members are absent.
  • Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
  • Consider canceling non-essential business travel to other countries per CDC’s travel guidance.

Notify employees of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, notify employees of their potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Make sure you maintain confidentiality, as required by the Americans with Disability Act. 

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