COVID-19 (Coronavirus) HR action plan email template

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak officially declared a pandemic by WHO, companies all over the world have started to get action against its spread. For HR, this means sending company-wide announcements, updating WFH and remote work policies, creating a dedicated coronavirus policy, introducing flexible work options, and so on.

The way you communicate these changes to your team matters. Because, when it comes to public health, you don’t want to underreact, but you don’t want to overreact either. Inform the staff about the precautionary measures that your company is taking and provide clear guidelines so that employees protect themselves and the workplace. In such times of uncertainty, your role in HR is to help everyone remain calm, but at the same time ensure that new policies are implemented.

We’ve created the following email templates that you can download, customize and send to your teams to inform them about your company’s preventative measures against COVID-19, also referred to as the coronavirus. It’s useful to scale your outreach to the staff based on the current situation in the region where you operate. Also, make sure that you keep the communication lines open, beyond those emails, so that employees can address their concerns or questions about the pandemic outbreak.

Phase 1: When the risk of transmission in your region is low

At this stage, it’s important to make employees aware of the situation and let them know that you might have to take additional measures if the virus outbreak spreads in your region. Focus your email on the importance of hygiene along with guidelines to those who have traveled or plan to travel to high-risk areas.

Subject line: Coronavirus preventive measures

Hi all,

We’re closely monitoring the updates around the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Although for the time being our region is mildly affected, we want to act fast and ensure we’re taking all the precautionary measures to avoid any risks.

This is why we’d like you all to pay extra attention and implement the following guidelines:

Sick leave:

  • If you’re feeling sick, leave the office immediately and stay at home until you’re completely asymptomatic. Common COVID-19 symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing and fever, but we ask you to use your sick leave even if you have the slightest symptoms in order to prevent potential infection in the workplace.
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, use your sick leave as usual. You can refer to our sick leave policy [insert link] for more details on the process. You can return to the office only after you’ve fully recovered, with a doctor’s note confirming your recovery.

Travel policy:

  • As of today, all business trips to high-risk areas are canceled. (You can consult the WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel advice for more details.) If you had a trip planned to those areas (e.g. for training or to attend a conference), we will try to rearrange that when we have official assurance that it’s safe to travel.
  • If you have traveled to any of the high-risk areas (or if you’re currently there), please contact HR and your manager as soon as possible. We might ask you to work from home for 14 days until you’re fully asymptomatic and avoid all in-person contact with colleagues in the meantime.
  • The above applies even if you didn’t travel, but you live with someone who did travel to a high-risk area recently (e.g. a spouse, a flatmate or a child).

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to HR if you have any doubts about which areas are considered high-risk. Also, as guidelines on international travel guidance are regularly updated, be mindful of any upcoming trips you’ve booked, including those in areas that are currently low or moderate risk.

Work from home:

  • If you’re catering for a family member who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19, but can work, you can request to work from home. Talk to your manager to see if this is possible, based on current projects and team needs; if not, we’ll ask you to use your paid leave.

Hygiene:

We’re already cautious when it comes to office hygiene, but in times like these, we ask you to ensure you follow these official guidelines:

  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol – we’ve equipped the office so you can find one anywhere.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially eyes, nose, and mouth – with your hands.
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Open the windows regularly to ensure regular fresh air flow.

Your health is our top priority, so we will keep an eye on any developments around the coronavirus outbreak and will let you know if there are any extra precautionary measures we all need to apply.

There’s no need to panic – let’s all contribute to keeping our workplace safe. Feel free to reply to this email or stop by HR if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

[Your name]
[Your email signature]

Phase 2: When the risk of transmission in your region is moderate

At this point, it’s time to start implementing stricter measures, such as restricting visitors to the office. You also need to get your teams prepared for the next phase. Remember that as the outbreak spreads, employees might start feeling stressed about it. So, make sure to give them clear guidelines and set the right tone so that they can all remain calm but cautious. Remember, you’re here to help and support them in any way you can.

Subject line: Coronavirus preventive measures

Hi all,

Following up from [last week’s] email and considering the updates of the coronavirus outbreak in our region, we want to take some extra measures to protect our teams’ health.

Visitors policy:

  • Effective immediately, we’re restricting visits from external partners, customers, candidates and any other guests in our offices. Please cancel any meetings you’ve already planned with them and reach out to our IT department to get support on how to run these meetings virtually if possible.
  • We are canceling any scheduled events that would take place in our offices. Don’t make plans to host other events until further notice.
  • You’re also advised to refrain from visiting partners’ offices and scheduling meetings in coworking spaces.

Travel policy:

  • All business trips, no matter the destination, are now canceled. If you have something planned, talk to your manager; we’ll try to rearrange trips when we have official guidance that’s it’s safe to travel.
  • If you have recently traveled (to any location) or live with someone who did, please reach out to HR and your manager. As a precautionary measure, we might ask you to work from home for 14 days until you’re fully asymptomatic.

Work from home:

We’re expanding our work from home policy, so you can talk to your manager and HR about the option to work from home in cases where:

  • You commute using public transit.
  • You have a medical background such that COVID-19 could put your health at risk.
  • You live with elderly/children/people with chronic diseases/etc.

In the following days, we will provide you with technical guidelines, along with some productivity tips, to help you work from home effectively. In the meantime, please reach out to your manager in order to coordinate regular meetings and workload.

For those of you who still work from the office, be extra cautious with hygiene and try to avoid overcrowding meeting rooms. In case you have the slightest symptoms (e.g. cough) but can work, don’t risk staying at the office. Talk to your manager immediately and work from home or get sick leave.

These all might sound like inconveniences, but they’re preventive measures we need to take in order to protect our health, and also not infect our loved ones or fellow citizens. We’re also doubling down on our efforts to keep the offices sanitized.

We will be monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and will let you know as we have new guidance from the local authorities. Stay healthy and don’t hesitate to contact your managers or HR, if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

[Your name]
[Your email signature]

Phase 3: When the risk of transmission in your region is moderate-high

At this stage, employees are already aware of the situation and – hopefully – getting preventive measures. But, with the COVID-19 outbreak officially declared a pandemic, you need to take even more drastic measures, like shutting down the offices and adopting a fully virtual work model. Employees are most likely expecting such a transition but make sure you give them all the necessary resources to adjust as smoothly as possible.

Subject line: Coronavirus preventive measures

Hi all,

I hope you and your loved ones are all healthy.

As we monitor the situation and follow the guidance of local authorities and the World Health Organization, we have decided to make work from home mandatory across the company.

Starting from [date] you’re all asked to work from home – our offices will be open in case you need to go and take your things (e.g. laptops, notebooks, chargers, etc.) or coordinate some details with your colleagues.

You can find here [link] comprehensive guides on how to work remotely effectively and what tools to use in order to keep being productive. Get in touch with your manager and team members to discuss best ways to connect virtually.

[You can also include specific, official guidelines from the government that may apply, such as pay to hourly employees, additional parental leave, etc.]

At this point, we can’t tell for how long we’ll have to work remotely but rest assured we’ll do anything we can to help you adjust to this new virtual work environment. This is a measure we need to take to protect our health but also minimize the risk of further spreading the virus.

We, in the HR team, and your managers are always available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. If you’re unsure about something, simply ask and we’ll find a way to make it work for everyone. Above all, we want to remain safe, healthy and calm.

Thank you,

[Your name]
[Your email signature]

Email to managers and team leaders

This email can go specifically to managers and team leaders in order to keep everyone aligned. Many employees will have questions around the preventive measures, so keep managers informed about the best ways to address concerns that may come up. Make sure to update managers on any changes you make to company policies, e.g. if you decide to offer more flexible remote work options, as well as any guidance you have from the government.

You can customize the following email template during different trigger points to match the specific precautionary measures that you take against COVID-10 outbreak. Most importantly, provide managers some useful tips so they can help their teams remain calm and productive during these times of uncertainty.

Subject line: Team guidelines around coronavirus

Hi all,

As you know, we are taking preventive measures against the COVID-19 outbreak which means that we all need to adopt some new work habits. We rely on you to help your team members adjust as smoothly as possible.

We have already sent [or, we plan to send shortly] a company-wide email to announce some [additional] measures we’ll be implementing – please make sure that you and your teams are following these guidelines.

As we’re currently operating under some uncertain conditions, and we’re not in a position to predict how things will turn around in the next few weeks or even months, let’s all work together to ensure our team’s wellbeing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Time off / Sick leave / Work from home: While we update our policies and share any changes we make, use your best judgment when a team member requests time off, sick leave or work from home. You can also proactively encourage employees to do so, taking into account that we’re not only protecting our health, we’re also protecting the health of those around us.
  • COVID-19 symptoms: If any of your team members has even the slightest symptoms (e.g. cough, fever, difficulty breathing) ask them to go home. Be discreet; we don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. This is a pandemic outbreak; it’s not anyone’s fault if they get infected, but we do need to minimize the risk. So, contact HR as soon as possible – we might need to sanitize the office or take other drastic measures.
  • Remote work: As we’re transitioning to a virtual work environment, make sure your team is adequately equipped. Support them on tools you might start using, set some ground rules to enhance your communication (e.g. have video calls with the camera on) and be empathetic as some employees might struggle with finding a quiet space at home (particularly if they don’t live alone).
  • Mental health: It’s natural that some of your team members might get stressed over this situation. Be there for them and let them know that we’ll all get through this tough time together. Try to avoid negative words that imply emergency and danger and opt for a more empathetic, calm tone. You can also encourage your team members to talk about their feelings and concerns during 1:1 meetings.

We do take and will continue to take precautionary measures so that we can keep working with a lower risk factor, but we realize that health is the top priority at this point. Be mindful of the inevitable changes in production and use this time to re-evaluate how you and your team are collaborating and how you can adapt to new working styles as we might need to work remotely for some time.

Mostly, make sure you also stay safe and reach out with any questions or concerns you have.

Thank you,

[Your name]
[Your email signature]

Disclaimer: This policy template is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the author nor Workable will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this policy.

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