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How to Protect Your Employees When Reopening

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for all staff. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this responsibility is more important than ever.

As businesses make preparations for reopening under British Columbia’s Restart Plan, a robust health and safety plan must be central to your strategy. Not only will it keep your team members safe, it will also play a key role in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.


Below, we’ve listed some considerations to guide the creation of your COVID-19 health and safety plans.

Consult Your Employees Before Reopening

When drafting your plans, team members must be given a seat at the table. Consider forming a small health and safety committee to work exclusively on preparing the plan. Staff should be represented and empowered to speak on any policies you’re considering, or changes you’re planning to make. They will be the ones interacting with customers and must feel comfortable during the process. Listen to their concerns and factor them into your plans.

Who Needs to Be There?

As businesses factor reduced customer capacity into their plans, it’s worth also minimizing the number of staff on site. Develop policies around who can be in the workplace. Prioritize work that needs to be done, and allow staff to work remotely where possible. Institute a policy around self-isolation and ensure staff feel comfortable taking time off if sick. Ensure they won’t be financially penalized for staying off work sick and consider relaxing requirements around sick notes. While this may lead to increased absence, it’s preferable to having to shut down your business and institute a deep clean should a staff member come to work with COVID-19.

Promote Physical Distancing

If you’ve been in a grocery store during the pandemic, you’ve likely noticed the one-way system and physical distancing stickers. No matter your type of business, take steps to ensure physical distancing is practiced in your workplace. These steps can include:

  • Reconfiguring the workplace to maintain recommended standards
  • Limiting in-person gatherings such as meetings
  • Promote teleconferencing when meetings are essential
  • Limiting business travel
  • Educating team members on the importance of maintaining distance

Lean on Available Resources

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, WorkSafeBC have provided guidance and resources for business owners looking to safely resume operations. When crafting your own health and safety plan, refer to WorkSafeBC’s Preventing Exposure to COVID-19 in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers document for best practices and inspiration.

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At Small Business BC, we’re committed to helping business owners reopen in a safe and successful way. Our Back to Business campaign features specific advice and guidance in the following areas:

  • Operational Health & Safety
  • Restart Strategy
  • Marketing & Communications

Alternatively, visit our BC Business COVID-19 Support Service and connect with our Business Advisors to get answers to your specific questions on reopening.

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