COVID-19: Businesses, Employers, and Workers

Coping tips for disrupted workers and families

Altered family routines. New financial pressures. Worry for yourself and your loved ones. Facing uncertainty at work, interrupted employment, or the increased risks that come with working an essential job during a pandemic. There is no doubt that COVID-19 is creating strain for people throughout Wisconsin. Adapting to these changes can be stressful for you and your family. But with self-care, the support of your loved ones, and a few healthy coping strategies, you can manage and reduce the pressure you may feel at work or at home.

 

Try these five strategies

  • Know it’s okay: It’s normal to feel upset and afraid when life changes in dramatic ways. Don’t judge your actions and emotions during times of stress too harshly.
  • Stick to a routine: Create a schedule for working, relaxing, physical activity, and connecting with loved ones that you and your family can rely on.
  • Prioritize self-care: Getting adequate rest and exercise, eating healthy foods, and maintaining your social connections can help you take better care of yourself and others.
  • Live with purpose: Disruptions in your work and home life can leave you floundering. Finding new ways to stay active and make contributions in your life and community can help reduce anxiety.
  • Ask for the help you need: Addressing your own stress and anxiety is critical. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from loved ones, turn to a trusted advisor, or seek the support of a mental or behavioral health professional.

Resources to help you manage stress and adapt to change

Essential workers and their families

For those working essential jobs in government and health care, at grocery stores, community utilities, and in other vital workplaces, staying safer at home during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t an option. Balancing your obligations as an employee with the natural concerns you may feel for your own health, financial well-being and the safety of your loved ones isn’t easy. Find tips for managing risk, reducing stress and taking care of yourself and others while serving your community.


For more information on workplace safety issues, see the "Questions answered" section below.

People facing interrupted employment

From coast to coast and across a wide variety of industries, workers have found themselves facing interrupted employment and job loss. Whether you’ve been laid off or temporarily furloughed, face lowered wages, or find that you cannot work due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions or concerns, the stress you may feel could compromise your physical and mental health. Invest in self-care techniques and tools for managing and reducing stress that can help you care for yourself and the people you care for, both now and when you return to work.

Apply for benefits

Wisconsin has many programs that can help you and your family.

 

 

People working from home

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance gets harder when work and life happen in the same place. New challenges like altered work schedules and routines, mastering new technology, or trying to collaborate with colleagues at a distance can add to your stress. The tools and tips below can help you build the resilience you need to thrive, whether you’re working in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, learning to share your working and living space with others, or are striving to meet your daily obligations as an employee while taking on new child care and homeschooling responsibilities.

Families with children at home

No matter their age, children can react strongly during emergencies and periods of stress. Separation from family and friends, changes to their routines at home and at school, and the anxiety children sense in the adults around them can all have a negative impact on their physical, emotional and mental health. When parents and caregivers deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they provide the best support for their children. Talking with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak can help. Share the facts in a way they’ll understand, and make sure they know they’re safe and that it’s okay to feel upset or afraid.

For people supporting youth and young adults
Teens and young adults have unique needs while adapting to COVID-19. Here are tips from teens in the PATCH program on how adults in their life can support them.

  • Make space for disappointment or sadness. Young people may be missing milestone moments. Acknowledge this, even if these issues seem small compared to other stressors or issues adults are experiencing. Empathy can go a long way.
  • Making the adjustment to distance learning can be challenging. Words of encouragement and recognition of hard work can make a big difference.
  • Allow alone time. Parents and caregivers might be stressed about being at home with their children without usual time apart. Youth are experiencing the same stress and desire for space. Talk to young people in your life about making a routine that works for all of you.  
  • Engage youth in your life as leaders and problem solvers. Providing teens a leadership role at home, choices within the distance learning environment, or ways to make a difference from a distance can motivate teens and show them that you recognize their perspective as important.  
  • Young people in your life might be dealing with a variety of challenges, related to COVID-19 and not. Reach out and check on them. Talk with them about how they are doing and what they need.
  • Just as adults may experience challenges with normal activities during times of stress, these challenges are normal for youth, too! Understand that young people in your life are trying, be compassionate and kind, and encourage them to seek help if needed. 

 

 


COVID-19 Employers Toolkit

The following resources are for employers to use to inform themselves and their employees on public health best practices and precautions to take to continue protecting employees, customers, and communities from COVID-19.

Print Resources

Social Media Resources

Download these images for use on social media. Once saved, you can add your business's logo to the image before posting to social media.

What is the difference? Isolation and Quarantine

Isolation and Quarantine: What is the Difference? (without DHS logo)
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What is the difference? Isolation and Quarantine

Isolation and Quarantine: What is the Difference? (with DHS logo)
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If your employee is in close contact with someone sick with COVID-19, they should stay home for 14 days from contact

If You Have Been Exposed, Stay Home (without DHS logo)
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If your employee is in close contact with someone sick with COVID-19, they should stay home for 14 days from contact

If You Have Been Exposed, Stay Home (with DHS logo)
Download

 

If your employee is in close contact with someone sick with COVID-19, they should stay home for 14 days from contact

If Your Employee Has Been Exposed, They Should Stay Home (without DHS logo)
Download

If your employee is in close contact with someone sick with COVID-19, they should stay home for 14 days from contact

If Your Employee Has Been Exposed, They Should Stay Home (with DHS logo)
Download

 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay in isolation until cleared

If You Test Positive for COVID-19 (without DHS logo)
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If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay in isolation until cleared

If You Test Positive for COVID-19 (with DHS logo)
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Allowing your employees to remain home while sick will lead to a safer and more productive workforce

If Your Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 (without DHS logo)
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Allowing your employees to remain home while sick will lead to a safer and more productive workforce

If Your Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 (with DHS logo)
Download

 

Cough Etiquette Help prevent the spread of infection your your mouth and nose

Cough Etiquette
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Thank you for physical distancing

Physical Distancing
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Thank you for doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19

Cloth Face Coverings
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Questions answered for workers, businesses, and employers

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has released reopening guidance for all businesses to follow as well as industry-specific advice.

For workers

The information below will provide answers to questions frequently asked by workers related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

How do I stay safe at my specific workplace?

The WEDC has best practices and safety information for businesses looking to keep workers, customers, and families safe while reopening and operating.

The WEDC best practices and safety information includes general guidelines for all businesses to follow as well as industry-specific advice for:

  • Agriculture
  • Childcare Centers
  • Construction
  • Entertainment/Amusement
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
  • Hair and Nail Salons
  • Hospitality/Lodging
  • Manufacturing
  • Outdoor Gatherings
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Professional Services (Commercial Office Spaces)
  • Public Facilities
  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Transportation
  • Warehouse/Wholesale Trade

Other industry and topic specific resources

What should I do if my employer is not protecting workers from COVID-19?

The following information is about COVID-19 safety only. Information about other occupational health/safety issues is on the DHS Occupational Health webpage.

    What you should do depends on whether you are a private sector employee (that is, your workplace is NOT operated by state or local governments) or a public sector employee (your workplace IS operated by state or local government).

    Private sector employees

    Contact your personnel department to find out what your employer’s COVID-19 safety plan is.

      If you believe that your employer’s policy is not protecting workers from COVID-19, you can contact your OSHA regional office by phone or online at the OSHA website. Many complaints are handled informally by OSHA. There are whistleblower provisions which are designed to protect employees who file a complaint from losing employment or pay, and OSHA has a whistleblower liaison.

      Public sector employees

      Contact your personnel department to find out what your employer’s COVID-19 safety plan is. If you believe that your employer’s policy is not protecting workers from COVID-19, you can send questions or concerns to the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) Tech mailbox. You can also file a complaint or concern on the DSPS webpage. Click on “file a complaint” on the right side of the page to reach an online form. Make sure to enter your category and profession in the dropdown boxes to route your question, concern, or complaint to the right person.

      What if I can’t work after being exposed to COVID-19 or because my workplace is closed?

      Information for Wisconsin workers, including equal rights and unemployment information is available on the Department of Workforce Development COVID-19 webpage.

      UW-Madison's School for Workers created a booklet summarizing worker legal rights related to COVID-19.

      Resources

      For businesses and employers

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      What can I do now to reopen my business or to protect my open business from COVID-19?

      The WEDC has best practices and safety information for businesses looking to keep workers, customers, and families safe while reopening and operating.

      The WEDC best practices and safety information includes general guidelines for all businesses to follow as well as industry-specific advice for:

      • Agriculture
      • Childcare Centers
      • Construction
      • Entertainment/Amusement
      • Gyms and Fitness Centers
      • Hair and Nail Salons
      • Hospitality/Lodging
      • Manufacturing
      • Outdoor Gatherings
      • Outdoor Recreation
      • Professional Services (Commercial Office Spaces)
      • Public Facilities
      • Restaurants
      • Retail
      • Transportation
      • Warehouse/Wholesale Trade

      When can a worker without symptoms who was exposed to COVID-19 return to work?

      The Wisconsin Department of Health Services currently recommends that persons who have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case be quarantined at home for a period of 14 days from the date of last contact with the ill individual.

      On April 8, 2020, CDC released new “Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19,” which provides information on when certain asymptomatic workers can return to work following a potential exposure to COVID-19. The CDC defines potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

      The new interim guidance from CDC does not alter current DHS guidance on this issue.

      DHS quarantine recommendations are intended for all persons who have had contact with COVID-19.

      The exception to this guidance is for health care personnel (HCP), who are subject to different recommendations due to widespread exposure to COVID-19 in the health care setting and the critical role of HCP in the current response (see Health Alert #2). Home-quarantine remains the recommended approach for all sectors and is the most effective public health tool available for combating the spread of COVID-19.

      DHS also acknowledges that local public health officials may identify other critical services and front-line workers in their jurisdiction that would be unable to operate if recommended quarantine guidance were applied. DHS supports local public health officials offering alternative arrangements to these employers on a case-by-case basis if the recommended home-quarantine would negatively impact public health and safety. In these limited scenarios, DHS recommends that return-to-work for potentially exposed employees be conditional upon following CDC’s interim guidance, as described above. Employers should work with local public health officials to create a plan for monitoring employees for symptoms regularly, disinfecting work areas, masking employees, and modifying operations to reduce contact between employees.

      Why is DHS recommending something different than CDC?
      The current recommendation by DHS for 14-day quarantine after potential exposure to COVID-19 is intended to prevent spread of COVID-19 in our communities and workplaces. When combined with early detection of COVID-19 infections, identification and quarantine of close contacts is one of the most effective tools for preventing transmission in communities and workplaces, and will ultimately lead to a safer and more productive workforce. DHS has chosen not to endorse CDC guidance on this issue in an effort to avoid widespread exemptions from quarantine that would diminish the impact of this critical public health tool and undermine the important work of local public health authorities in their jurisdiction.

      When can a recovering COVID-19 patient return to work?

      Ensure that employees who have symptoms of respiratory illness stay home and do not come to work until:

      • They are free of fever (>100.4°F) AND respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath) for at least three days (72 hours) without the use of fever-reducing medicine; AND
      • Ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
      Resources
      Last Revised: June 18, 2020

       RESPONSE RESOURCES FOR WISCONSINITES — www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/help.htm