The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has highlighted an employer’s role and responsibility in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.

The advisory is available here. 

“Employers must rapidly take the following precautionary measures to flatten the Covid-19 curve and prevent the current pandemic from worsening and affecting our community, especially the vulnerable population,” the advisory states.
Employers must ensure that they follow national and World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations in order to keep the workplace safe and healthy, it adds.

* Environmental cleaning:
1. Employers must have installed hand sanitisers containing alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol, minimum 60%), isopropyl alcohol or benzalkonium chloride) and ensure that they are refilled regularly.
2. Employers must also provide soap, water and tissues in all available restrooms.

* Timekeeping:
1. The employer must suspend the use of fingerprints for work timekeeping until further notice. Line managers must be able to monitor their staff attendance manually, if necessary, until the situation is controlled.

* Staff body temperature:
1. Employers can measure the staff members’ body temperature using a touchless device one or two times a day – all while respecting physical distancing.

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* External visitors and meetings:
1. Employers must not allow visitors and cancel external business meetings. Technology is highly developed to provide solutions like Business Skype, Microsoft Teams and virtual meeting applications.
2. All entities must apply physical distancing and the staff should remain away from group settings and mass gatherings, and maintain distance (2m or nearly 6ft) from each other whenever possible.
3. All employers must ensure restricted movement for all their staff and avoid social events.

* Food & beverages:
1. Employers should temporarily suspend the use of any external company to serve tea and coffee.
2. Employers should notify staff that all personal deliveries to the office are also suspended and that the employees should self-serve and bring their personal food and preferably disposable items (spoon, mug, glass, plate, etc).

* Mental health and stress management:
1. Employers must share the facts about Covid-19 with all employees and regularly communicate through email or social media. Providing comfort by understanding employees’ fear and offering support through continuous internal communication can make an outbreak less stressful.
2. Official sources from where facts should be obtained for sharing: the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation.
3. When employers share accurate information about Covid-19, they can help make employees feel less stressed and allow them to connect with their managers if they feel the need to.
4. It is an employer’s responsibility to take necessary measures to ensure that employees feel free to talk should they have any symptoms, with no fear of being discriminated against at the workplace.

* Work flexibility:
1. Employers must be flexible at times of extremely high health risk and enable people to work from home when tasks and functions allow that.
2. An employer, as a minimum, must follow national directives and immediately implement the following – people suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, people above 55 years of age and pregnant women must work remotely from home.

* What should an employer do if one of his/her employees is infected?
1. Employers must provide the employee with a surgical mask that he/she will wear appropriately and put the employee in an isolated area or room before calling the MoPH hotline, 16000.
2. Employers must follow the MoPH’s National Infection Prevention and Control Interim Guidelines for Covid-19, while the housekeeping staff shall use appropriate personal protective equipment.
3. Employers must communicate with the patient’s co-workers, especially those at risk, for them to take any necessary measures and precautions without introducing stigma and discrimination in the workplace.
4. Employers must make sure that the patient has a medical clearance before returning to work.

Last updated: April 17 2020 08:42 PM