Management and staff in retail everywhere are unsure how to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the current industry, it’s the first time that border closures and travel limitations have been forced upon the public. With the fluid situation, it leaves business owners and managers in a predicament, and that’s the case with dealerships as well.
Knowing what to do and where to find the latest information is crucial. These guidelines can help dealers navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 situation and come out the other side, weathering the storm as well as possible.
Follow CDC Recommendations
It’s everyone’s responsibility in the workplace to limit the spread of germs. Management in the dealership should be actively involved in encouraging their team members to do their part in flattening the curve of the pandemic. That involves making sure everyone:
- Avoids close contact with sick people
- Covers a cough or sneeze with a tissue and discards it immediately
- Avoids touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cleans and disinfects their workspace regularly
- Washes their hands for at least 20 seconds frequently
- And most importantly, stays home when they are sick
Self-Isolate IF Necessary
If someone is feeling ill and has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath – they should be sent home immediately. Self-isolating is a practice that will limit the spread to others, especially vulnerable persons.
The self-isolation period is 14 days for coronavirus. For employees who are in self-isolation, there’s a good chance it will cause additional stress on others in the dealership to pick up the slack. However, the alternative – a store-wide outbreak – would be devastating.
What if Someone Suspects Exposure but Doesn’t Have Symptoms?
If someone has a reasonable suspicion that they’ve come in contact with an infected person, that can be a very serious issue since symptoms can take many days to show. All the while, they could be spreading the disease to others.
Walk the team member through the steps to conduct a risk assessment, as listed in the link. If the team member may have been exposed but doesn’t have symptoms, it’s best for everyone to play it safe and encourage self-isolation.
If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed, the CDC guidelines are that fellow employees should be informed of possible exposure in the workplace confidentially, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This may also involve contacting customers for employees working with the public.
Will Staff Be Paid if they Stay Home from Work?
Again, the CDC provides guidance in strategies for employers to use regarding employees who cannot or should not come to work. They recommend developing non-punitive leave policies during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure everyone who is ill stays isolated. Also, eliminate the need for sick notes as it can overwhelm medical and health care providers unnecessarily.
The same consideration should be extended to employees who need to care for sick family members.
When Should Dealerships Tell Staff to Stay Home?
Every dealership will need to make a daily decision about whether it’s safe to operate as usual. There may come a time when local authorities require limited hours of operation or a complete shutdown for an unknown period.
In an industry so heavily based on daily sales, the COVID-19 response will be taxing on employees and dealership owners and investors alike. However, the risks associated with the spread of the disease force employers to do what’s right for their staff as well as the public at large.