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Health Department Issues Call to Action

Todd PittengerSeptember 11, 2021

The Saline County Health Department is requesting area businesses and organizations to adopt new policies and adapt existing ones around paid sick leave that will allow their employees to stay home when they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 or other highly infectious diseases without fear of negative repercussions.

The agency says it is imperative that employers accept their responsibility as an integral partner in public health.

The pandemic has made it clear, perhaps now more than ever, that workplace policies centered around the health of the employees reap benefits for both the employee and the employer. Efforts to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths make workplaces safer, employees more productive, and ultimately provide a better experience for the entire community.

Healthy People 2030 is a national initiative that provides 10-year, measurable public health objectives and tools to help track progress toward achieving them. Within this initiative, economic stability and workplace programs have been identified as areas for communities to address and improve. Locally, employers have been quick to adopt masking and social distancing policies when needed, however, company culture and policy changes pertaining to sick leave still have significant room for improvement.

For those reasons, the Saline County Health Department formally requests that businesses and organizations adopt new policies and adapt existing ones around paid sick leave that will allow their employees to stay home when they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 or other highly infectious diseases without fear of negative repercussions. This also helps company productivity by keeping more employees working. Policies and company cultures that penalize employees for properly following workplace hygiene guidelines costs our community members their health, wellbeing, and lives as well as workplace satisfaction and productivity in the best of times. This is definitively not “the best of times.”

It is time for employers to think beyond masking, social distancing, testing, and vaccine policies and create viable options that allow their most valuable asset – their people – to exercise responsibility over their personal health. The medical community is overwhelmed and keeping sick people at work only compounds this further. It is important for employers to put faith and trust in their people.

Testing supplies across the US are falling egregiously short of demand. Shortages are being reported and felt by all of our testing providers locally and regionally. While routine widespread screening is the best practice, significant supply chain issues make it unrealistic at this time. Testing should be limited to those who are symptomatic. Employees who have or think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and contact the health department. There is no option to “test out of quarantine” early.

While this is indeed a call to action, it is not exclusive to the pandemic. We have asked our people to accept personal responsibility for their health. It is imperative that employers accept their responsibility as an integral partner in public health.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.



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