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Research and Briefings

COVID-19: An Employer's Guide


Published on 16 March 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe. It has symptoms similar to a cold or flu — fever, cough and shortness of breath. But its complications, including pneumonia, respiratory distress and kidney failure, can prove fatal.

Experts are still gathering data to determine the full characteristics of the disease. The virus appears to be more contagious and more severe than seasonal flu. Clearly, all companies will need to prepare for its impact on their employees and businesses. This includes policies and reviews to ensure the health and safety of employees, communities and businesses.

Employers of health care workers who care for patients with COVID-19 can anticipate a real and foreseeable danger for those employees. But what should employers not working in direct patient care be doing?

The World Health Organization, as well as national and local health authorities, is continually issuing updates, guidance, travel warnings and directives. Always refer and adhere to these.

However, companies without a flexible working policy may struggle to maintain business as usual. Employees are understandably concerned about the health of their families and communities. Financial market volatility is another worry.

So what can companies do to keep their workplaces and employees safe, engaged and productive? And what can we learn from this situation to build resilience in the future?

In this Mercer Marsh Benefits guide, we examine the impact and provide advice on the following areas:

  • Employee communication
  • Support mechanisms for employees and their families
  • Group medical and risk protection benefits
  • Onsite/near-site health clinic protocols
  • Business travel management, including employees traveling from areas most affected by the virus
  • Operation closures
  • Employee experience
  • Remote, flexible and adaptive working practices
  • Impact upon pensions and retirement savings
  • Pandemic preparedness plans

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