Should employers do more to protect older workers from coronavirus?

Kate Palmer from HR experts Peninsula advises on whether employers should make specific efforts to protect older workers from coronavirus, since it affects them worse, or just adopt a blanket approach.

Serious pensioner stares into the distance

 

Coronavirus, we are told, affects older people more than their younger counterparts. So should employers be especially aware of the increased risks to older workers with coronavirus, given the latest data available, or should they just adopt an across the board policy? Kate Palmer, Associate Director of Advisory at Peninsula, gives some advice.

With data showing that older individuals are at increased risk from the symptoms of the coronavirus, employers may wish to take a proactive approach to this and prioritise the safety of these particular members of staff. For example, one option to consider is taking steps to reduce the chances of older workers being exposed, such as allowing them to work from home temporarily, if possible, for the foreseeable future. Alternatively, they may encourage older members of staff to avoid business-related travel until this situation has passed, as a way of reducing their risk of coming into contact with the virus.

It is important to remember that the coronavirus does affect different people in different ways; just because an employee is of a certain age does not necessarily mean that they are going to be more or less affected. Furthermore, it is arguable that any employee contracting the virus would have the same impact on both business and staff. Isolation periods remain the same regardless of age, as does the risk that an infected employee could pass the virus onto their potentially older colleagues.

As a result, the best advice would seem to be to adopt policies designed to tackle the impact of the coronavirus across the board. By taking steps to help work against the spread of the virus, such as following latest government guidelines on isolation periods and avoidance of travel to certain areas, employers can aim to protect all members of staff, including those who could potentially be at higher degrees of risk.



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