While companies are responsible for creating a healthy and safe environment for their employees and the Bermuda Government has issued workplace guidance which provides best practices to achieve this. We all play a key role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. This means:
- continuing to practice public health measures, such as social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitising when conducting in-person business
- staying at home if you or a member of your household is feeling unwell
- staying up to date on your COVID-related health benefits (e.g. testing, vaccines)
- talking to your doctor and knowing your COVID-status before returning to the workplace
- remaining flexible and communicating your preferences for remote working
Know your rights
Employees have the right to know, right to participate, and the right to refuse dangerous working conditions. It is important for employees and management to have ongoing, open and honest conversations about workplace health and safety in the post-vaccine environment. Since COVID-19 constitutes a workplace hazard, employers can request that employees provide their health and travel information as it relates to workplace health and safety protocols.
Your vaccination status
Your vaccination or COVID-19 status is confidential medical information and should be treated as such. It should be voluntary for you to disclose whether or not you have had the vaccine, but mandatory for employees working in-person and have either tested positive for COVID-19, have developed new symptoms of infection or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive to report this to their employer to help mitigate the safety risk in the work environment.
Credible resources, such as the Government of Bermuda, The Ministry of Health, or your primary care physician, can help you make an informed choice about getting the vaccine. If you work in high-risk industries such as healthcare, hospitality or emergency response, you may be encouraged or required to get the vaccine, a specification that can be advised by bodies such as the Bermuda Human Rights Commission and the Bermuda Employers’ Council. Employers should be cautious to not ask for more personal information than is necessary. For example, employers can ask their employees’ vaccination status, and a simple ‘yes’, in addition to the vaccine certificate, or ‘no’ answer from employees should be sufficient.
If you have recently travelled, you must be compliant with both the Government and the company’s travel and quarantine policies before you enter the workplace. The Government of Bermuda provides minimum guidance required for workplaces, but more stringent policies may be implemented based on a risk assessment.
A safe environment for all
Continuing public health measures in the workplace can ensure that there are uniform expectations for employees and customers engaging in in-person services, regardless of their vaccination status. Practical measures may include:
- mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitising in shared spaces
- staggered shifts
- allocated in-office days or remote working options
- frequent cleaning and disinfecting of shared surfaces, such as handrails, door knobs and customer service, reception and staff lounge areas
- avoiding using other co-workers’ tools and equipment
The situation is continuously evolving, and you should always be the first to know about any company updates and changes. However, if they choose to re-open, the most important thing is that you feel and remain safe.
Finally, continue to monitor the latest information and advice for employers from the Bermuda Government.
To keep up to date on Argus policies and coverage information, and find answers to frequently asked questions, visit argus.bm/coronavirus