Stabilizing Supply Chains During COVID-19 with the Help of Waivers

Businesses who are a part of the supply chain industry can utilize waivers as a way to mitigate risks of liability brought on by COVID-19.

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Since the early stages of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it has become quite apparent just how important the country’s supply chain is. Within the first month of COVID-19, grocery stores were limiting the number of items shoppers could buy, and some products were out of stock for weeks on end. Some supply chains still have not fully recovered. Things are starting to get better, but as more companies begin to ramp up operations, one question remains—How do we safely operate businesses that are critical to the country’s supply while staying compliant? A major key to successfully doing this is to integrate waivers into everyday business operations.

Many insurance companies are putting pressure on organizations to require employees to fill out waivers before coming back to work. These waivers act as both legal protection for businesses and as a way to make employees aware of the risks they may face. With thousands of people currently slated to resume work at warehouses, manufacturing plants, and distribution centers, it is imperative to create an efficient process that protects both parties.

What are waivers?

No matter the business or industry, every company has at least one waiver that employees, vendors or customers must sign off on. A waiver is a contract in which a party voluntarily and knowingly gives up a legal right. The main objective of a waiver is to disclaim liability relating to assumption of risks, indemnification and covenants not to sue. If found enforceable, a waiver that is signed by both parties would eliminate liability for any risks outlined in the agreement.

Businesses who are a part of the supply chain industry can utilize waivers as a way to mitigate risks of liability brought on by COVID-19. Many essential organizations have been put in an ethical dilemma as they grapple with keeping employees safe and producing enough product for the growing demand. While not all risks can be avoided, new safety and sanitary standards have been widely rolled out throughout the country that helps decrease the risk of acquiring the disease drastically. By adding the use of waivers to the list of new procedures, there will be total transparency with employees who will understand and know the risks associated with returning to work.

Helping employees return to work

As more details have emerged about the virus, employees have been weighing the risks of returning to work against finding a new job with less risk or staying home until a cure is found. This has put the burden of creating a safe environment on the business where they are creating new policies and procedures to keep employees protected. 

Companies in the supply chain sector should look to comply with Coronavirus guidelines released by the government on social distancing and preventative measures. Once these updated processes are put into place, then businesses can begin the process of outlining all they are doing to keep workers safe in the form of a waiver. From there, employees can review the new company standards and decide for themselves if they would like to return to work. 

Alternative ways companies can incorporate waivers

Waivers for employees are not the only way that companies can provide protection and transparency in day-to-day operations. Having customers, visitors and vendors fill out waivers before coming to the facility helps to add another layer of protection. By making these waivers mandatory, it will help mitigate the risk of litigation should anyone who is not an employee contract COVID-19 after visiting a facility. 

Obviously, it is impossible to mitigate all risks and waivers are only one step that a business should take in protecting its employees and anyone who enters the premises. Complying with all government requirements, implementing new safety standards, and creating a reporting system for anyone violating rules are also great methods for creating a safe work environment.

For companies who decide they want to implement waivers in their new processes, it is important to think about the best way of distributing them to employees. Having each worker fill one out by hand can be time-consuming and highly inefficient. Instead, offering the waivers digitally will allow everyone to fill them out from the comfort of their home and decrease the number of administrative hours needed for the task.