Woman wearing facemask

How Restaurants Are Liable When Workers Get the Coronavirus

Many restaurants remained open for takeaway and delivery amid the coronavirus crisis. More recently, some European countries announced that they would start allowing dine-ins as cities start to adapt to the new normal.

While restaurant workers take all precautions by wearing masks and other protective gear at work, Covid-19 infection can still find its way to some of them, potentially spreading the virus to other workers or even customers.

When this happens, what are the liabilities of restaurant owners, and how can they manage it?

Protect the Business First

Restaurant owners, or any business, must know the protocols and requirements set by their city council and health officials. Following them to a tee is the first step to limiting any legal liability. Failure to follow the requirements will subject the restaurant to penalties and fines, or worse to permanent closure.

These protocols include protecting employees. They will be interacting with the customers and vice-versa; therefore, following protocols is important to prevent any spread of infection.

Common requirements include proper social distancing, disinfecting, proper protective gear and training the workers on how to handle the food according to health and sanitation rules.

Workers’ Coronavirus Compensation

In the unfortunate event that an employee or employees test positive for coronavirus, the restaurant owners or company will have to file for a workers’ compensation claim from their insurance. Especially if they have sufficient proof that the workers were infected while doing their job.

Big hospitality chains would likely have a claims management system installed in their process by a third-party provider, but for smaller ones, they would need to file for the claim themselves.

Getting the compensation may not be that simple. The employee(s) will have to prove that they got the virus from contact with another employee while they were on the restaurant’s premises. The insurance company will launch an investigation, and the employer will help in determining if the claim qualifies for compensation.

The compensation covers medical expenses, lost time, permanent disability and even death benefit.

Employers will want to file for the potential claims immediately to give the insurance company enough time to review the case and the possible coverage.

What Employers Can Do to Protect the Workers

Safe employee

Before it even happens, restaurants must take all proper precautions to keep the workers and customers safe. A few vital steps to take include:

Training and Monitoring Staff – now is the time to send everyone to training to update their knowledge of rules and protocols. Strict monitoring should follow to make sure the workers are applying what they learned to their work. The managers should monitor compliance for both the employee and customers.

Enforcing Personal Hygiene – part of the training and monitoring is the staff’s personal hygiene. They must wash their hands 20 seconds or more with soap and water, using gloves when handling food and utensils and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Screen Them for Symptoms – If the company can afford it, they should subject the employees to Covid-19 testing. They should also be regularly screened for symptoms so they can be sent home immediately to quarantine.

Cleaning and disinfecting the restaurant may not always be enough to ensure the workers’ and customers’ safety from the virus. More protocols must be in place, and the owners should be ready to file for a workers’ claim should the unfortunate happen.

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