Informational Webinar on Tackling COVID-19 Questions from IMA

The Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA) held a webinar to assist company leadership in managing the COVID-19 virus and planning to be prepared for a multitude of scenarios.

We are currently at 288 confirmed cases in the state. This virus is considered a pandemic.1

Businesses should look at sick policies, limit meetings and stay on top of health updates. As of right now, manufacturing can continue to operate. The recent policy enacted of no gatherings over 50+ people by the governor does not apply to manufacturing.

If someone on your staff tests positive for the virus, the hospital must report it to public health department and an investigation begins. If they determine it is a high-risk situation, they will contact the company and provide next steps.

Regular deep cleanings and disinfecting of common areas is crucial. Frequent hand washing and covering cough and sneezes with sleeve or Kleenex helps prevent the spread. If an employee feels ill, they must stay home.

Attorney Scott Cruz gave a ton of information on how to handle pay and the different scenarios that may occur. Most pay determinators relate to exempt vs. non-exempt and full-time vs. part-time. He also discussed FMLA and unemployment rights along with doctor notes to return to work for employees who have been quarantined.

Also emphasized was frequent and open communication with all your employees.

  • Communicate who is making decisions and how
  • Transparency with current state of company and what you are doing to protect your staff
  • Has there been an event or not?
  • Details if there has been an event – no personal information for privacy laws
  • Here’s where we are today as a company
  • Keep communications in present tense
  • Admit what you do not know
  • No long-term commitments
  • Leave facts to the experts
  • Don’t go quiet
  • Be empathetic
  • Correct any rumors/misinformation
  • Reinforce you are addressing questions – you want staff to keep talking to you
  • Contingency planning

In the event of a mandatory shutdown:

  • Stay in front of staff
  • Proactive with communication
  • How will you communicate with staff while they are out of the office (hotline, text, email?)

Experts that offered educational information and recommendations:

  • Evonda Thomas-Smith, Assistant Director, Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Jen Layden, Chief Medical Officer, City of Chicago
  • Declan Binninger, Illinois Emergency Management Agency
  • Shannon Stuckey Pritchett, Senior Managing Director, FTI Americas Head of Restructuring & Business Transformation Communications
  • Scott Cruz, Attorney, Greensfelder, Hemker, & Gale, P.C.

There is a dedicated COVID-19 page on IMA’s website that contains the audio to the webinar as well as a wealth of helpful information for leadership, which can be found here: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

1 WGN News: Spike of 128 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Illinois, state total up to 288 By Patrick Elwood