What’s the Plan When an Employee Catches COVID-19?

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — With the coronavirus still a looming threat, having an employee who contracts COVID-19 – the disease spread by the virus – can bring legal and branding ramifications.

In the second installment of the four-part “Survive, Adapt, Transform” video series, Jeff Leo Herrmann, CEO of The Youngstown Publishing Co., asks a panel of industry leaders “What happens when someone gets sick at your company?”

Panelists Nils Johnson of Johnson & Johnson Law Firm, Jim Klingensmith and Brian Battaglia of L. Calvin Jones, and Jeff Hedrich of The Prodigal Co., discuss liability and business impact related to the conveyance of COVID-19, and what business owners can do to prepare.

The first step toward legal protection, Johnson said, is to be very proactive.

“You have an obligation to protect two sets of people: your employees and your customers,” says Johnson. “You have to take steps to align your business with the best practices of your particular industry.”

There are a number of resources available including the Centers for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the State Department of Health, where industry specific guidelines can be found, he said.

Another area where proactivity is key is your brand impact and messaging.

“The goal is to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome,” Battaglia says. “Social media should be your avenue to let everyone know what precautions you’re taking.”

Battaglia recommends business owners use social media to communicate the steps they have taken to ensure the safety of their customers to build trust while also acting as a safety net in the event someone gets sick.

If news of someone getting sick at a business takes off on social media, can that be damaging to the company’s brand? Prodigal’s Hedrich says consumers have gone from “outright fear to more of a considered concern

“We aren’t seeing any long term sales interruptions or negative brand impact because people are less afraid and more understanding of how the virus spreads,” he said.

“Overall I think many of us are being very positive, following the guidelines and using common sense,” Battaglia adds. “We live in a great community where people want to support each other; people are doing the right things and taking the right steps. It’s good to be back.”

For deeper insights into these and other topics discussed during the panel, watch the video above. The next “Survive, Adapt, Transform” video panel is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., June 24, followed by the final video on July 1.

The “Survive, Adapt, Transform” series is sponsored by First National Bank.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.