Pandemic response and business continuity checklist

Due to the recent events surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), emergency preparation and planning has become a priority for businesses. Business continuity planning involves determining the policies and procedures that allow a company to continue to function during and after an emergency or disaster. Developing a plan specific to public health crises, such as infectious diseases or pandemic flu, helps prepare your business for the unexpected. Formal, written policies are essential for business continuity for several reasons. Management and employees can refer to the documents when responding to a crisis and obtain clear, concise instructions for action. Written plans are also beneficial if liability issues should arise during a pandemic to display the business’ commitment to health and safety. The checklist below provides a general outline for pandemic business continuity plans. However, make sure to work with your professional consultant to make sure your plan complies with all the applicable laws.

Policy objectives and administration

  • Purpose of the policy, and in which situations it will apply.
  • Who is in charge of administering the policy, and what other roles should be considered?
  • Plan of succession for a policy administrator.
Roles and responsibilities
  • Which functions will managers fulfill?
  • Which functions will employees fulfill?
  • How will actions by customers/clients affect business continuity procedures in a pandemic?
  • How will pandemic response information be communicated with employees, customers/clients, and the media?
  • When will information be released and at what frequency?
  • Determine what modes of communication will be utilized (e.g., email, phone, mail, social media, or media outlets).
Risk assessment and analysis
  • How will the business stay informed of current events during the pandemic?
  • How will the policy administrator work with other individuals to assess conditions and local risk levels?
  • What information should be gathered during a pandemic that can affect business decisions?
Disease prevention and control
  • How will the business prevent managers, employees, and customers/clients from becoming infected?
  • Describe the hygiene practices that will be taken (i.e., hand-washing, sanitization of the facility, and ensuring the safety of any products distributed by the business).
  • Develop a policy indicating when sick employees should stay home or what to do if another individual in their household is infected.
  • Determine at what point the business should decide to halt operations if conditions become increasingly dangerous or government entities mandate closure.
Alternative means of conducting business operations
  • If the physical business location must close, are there alternative ways to conduct operations (e.g., remotely or virtually)? How will the options be assessed?
Alternative staffing arrangements and flexible work options
  • Will employees be able to work remotely if it becomes too risky to leave home?
  • Which job roles can work remotely, and for how long?
  • What equipment is needed for remote work?
  • How will management assess other flexible work options needed?
Human resource policies
  • How will the business promote the health and wellness of employees?
  • Will sick employees be encouraged to stay home without penalty?
  • Develop procedures regarding payroll and other financials in the case of interrupted business operations.
Return to work policy
  • Develop a policy outlining the guidelines and procedures for employees to return to work after a pandemic safely.
  • Does the policy indicate that returning to work is contingent upon federal, state, and local regulations?
  • Procedures for deep cleaning and disinfecting the workplace before and after employees return to work.
  • Procedures for monitoring the health of employees before and after returning to work.
  • Will employees feeling ill or displaying symptoms be encouraged to stay home and follow public health recommendations?
Training and recordkeeping
  • How will the business continuity plan be communicated with policy administrators, management, and employees?
  • What training is needed to ensure that the plan will be executed efficiently in a pandemic?
  • How and where can the plan be accessed?
  • How often will the plan be evaluated and updated?
  • Describe any additional procedures for recordkeeping and documentation.

By: Libby Burgher
Risk Solution Specialist

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