On August 4, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a communication plan to assist employers with communicating with their employees about COVID-19. To view, the CDC’s Communication plan click here.  The goal is to ensure that the employees have available accurate, actionable, and timely disease prevention and control information. This is in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases among select non-healthcare critical infrastructure employees across the country.

While the communication plan does not target every industry, the message and tools it provides are applicable to all employers. A list of nonhealthcare critical infrastructure employees is found here.

The communication plan outlines the following:

Section 1: Methods To Communicate Your Message

This section suggests that employers use multiple methods in which to get the message out to employees to increase the worker’s understanding of the information regarding COVID-19. Suggested methods include text messages, letters to employees, socially distant small group meetings, and/or providing information in multiple languages, which the CDC provides on its website.  Additionally, as part of an effective communication plan, the CDC suggests it is important for employers to provide opportunities for employee feedback and questions.

Section 2: Key Messages

Since workplaces are often comprised of a diverse population, employers may need to think out of the box so as to communicate effectively in culturally appropriate ways. Translation and interpretation of materials and messages into employees’ preferred language(s) using plain language is one way to help ensure successful prevention and control efforts.

Section 3:  Communication Resources

The links below provide communication materials (CDC posters, handouts, videos, and social media messaging), translated into multiple languages, from the CDC as well as state-based sites.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19
  • State-based Occupational Health Surveillance Clearinghouse

Regardless of what industry your company is in, employers must be diligent in regularly communicating to their employees, what is happening in the workplace regarding COVID-19. Best practices include being proactive in informing employees that the company is concerned about the employee’s health and everything that can be done is being done to protect their employees in the workplace.

While companies may believe that employees are informed about the protocols for staying home when sick, what the symptoms of COVID-19 are and how easily it is spread; and the requirements for social distancing and face masks; reminders of these protocols is necessary.  For example, within this CDC plan, there is an update to the CDC’s recommended return to work protocols.

  1. The CDC recommends that employees who had symptoms of COVID-19 you can return to work if at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first started.
  2. The recommendation now goes one step further indicating that if the employee had a severe case of COVID-19 or is immunocompromised, the employee may need to wait up to 20 days before returning to work after discussing their individual situation with their healthcare provider.

Remember to maintain documentation of all of your communication, it will go a long way in defending your company’s action if they are ever called into question in the future. Continued communications with your employees are key to having an informed workforce and goes a long way in letting your employees know that they are valued.