In response to the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and with appreciation that these are times of great worry and disruption for many, we at Shiva Foundation wanted to offer some practical action suggestions to our partners and networks.
We recognise that many people will be put in insecure positions financially, due to these uncertain times. Struggling industries are facing the prospect of job cuts and moreover, many workers may fear losing income due to illness or self-isolation. We know that working from home is an impossibility in some industries, however we strongly believe that people should not be put in a situation where they must choose between their health and their income.
We know that crises can increase risk of modern slavery and human trafficking. Criminals may target new vulnerable populations and with a decrease in economic opportunity, more people become at risk. While we have no precedent to compare with our current situation, we must do what we can now to prevent increased vulnerability and increased risk of exploitation in the future.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
The following suggestions are directed at businesses and what they can do to ensure their staff stay healthy and safe. If you are unaware of what financial options are available to your business in order to support your workers, see here.
FOR YOUR WORKERS
- Ensure workers feel they can prioritise their health by upholding sick pay policies and educating workers on what their entitlements are (see more here).
- Inform workers of NHS guidance and help support staff, for example if they require more flexible working because they have caregiving duties for family (see more here).
- Continue taking the suggested actions to reduce risk of exposure in the workplace (see more here).
- Take worker concerns seriously. We are all in a state of increased stress.
- Continue to build trust that your company wants to do what’s best for its workers. Reassuring staff and taking follow up action is important.
FOR YOUR HOME-WORKERS OR THOSE IN ISOLATION
- In many cases, working from home may become the new norm. Consider worker mental health and helping your staff manage their stress and adjust to their new working environment. There is a wealth of external expertise available, such as this from Mind.
- Implement virtual social activities (having a “stress circle” or setting up weekly online “coffee mornings”). And if people do raise issues, consider how you will take follow up action.
- Share information on where people can get support from their community, including groceries, prescriptions and dog walking (see more here).
- If you are well and are not an at-risk individual, consider how you can help in your community, by volunteering, donating to food banks and checking in on your neighbours (see here).
We are faced with an unprecedented situation all around the world. One where panic, anxiety, uncertainty and financial stress are all valid feelings. Despite this, there are pockets of inspirational evidence around us; groups of people coming together to support one another, provide reassurance, and show genuine kindness and humanity. We have faith that by working together, we can protect people and prevent this crisis from increasing exploitation and vulnerability.
The team at Shiva Foundation