A Message from Bill Barcus
Let me begin by saying thank you.
The past several weeks have been a time of extraordinary uncertainty. During this time, you have faithfully served our customers, our communities and our company. In return, we want to ensure that Sebastian remains a great place to work and a place where you can prosper.
As you know, Sebastian has been designated a provider of essential services. This means we have both the privilege and the responsibility to keep serving our customers and our communities. We are keeping customers connected to family and friends through our communication and data networks, and we are building critical infrastructure for our communities through our construction teams.
During this time, Sebastian is committed to providing you with a safe place to work. We have made accommodation to our workforce, allowing some to work from home, ensuring proper social-distancing for those remaining in the office, providing regular sanitation of our workplaces, and encouraging proper individual hygiene.
We are unsure how long these conditions will last, but we will communicate with you regularly while they do. Our company email updates will continue. Our monthly ECC meetings will continue (with an emphasis on addressing continued concerns). We have also created a new email address (email@example.com) that will allow you to ask questions and offer suggestions for prompt consideration.
Thank you again for your loyalty and commitment. Good luck to us all,
March 25th, 2020
First, we would like to reiterate that any concerns regarding COVID-19 should be communicated to Human Resources.
The federal government has passed new legislation providing additional benefits for employees. These benefits will go into effect on April 1st. Human Resources is reviewing the new legislation and will be following up with all employees shortly with more details.
ALL medical plans are now covering diagnostic testing and related services for COVID-19 at 100% with no deductibles or co-pays. This includes services provided by doctors, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers leading up to a decision that testing is necessary along with the actual lab-based testing. The mandate does not extend to treatment at this time.
If you are a homeowner and are struggling to make mortgage payments, the Governor of California has announced that Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, and US Bank have agreed to a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments. If you use a different lender, you can also check with them to see if similar assistance is being offered.
We’d like to remind all employees of the importance of frequent hand washing and physical distancing. Management is working hard to keep our inventory stocked with soap, sanitizer, etc., and we continue to sanitize surfaces in common areas multiple times per day.
Please take advantage of technology (email, cell phones, videoconferencing, etc.) to reduce the need for in-person contact. If you need assistance with any of these technological solutions, please contact the helpdesk (firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-846-HELP).
March 23rd, 2020
Here are the latest updates on our operations related to COVID-19. Please see here for a brochure from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding precautions for avoiding infection, and actions to take if you feel you may be infected. Please read it and let management know if you have questions.
We would also like to provide you with a link to the CDC’s website, which provides more information and a “self-check” tool:
- As a reminder – if you are feeling ill, please do not report to work. Contact your supervisor and seek medical assistance if needed.
- If an employee has previously displayed symptoms but has been cleared to return to work, they will be asked to wear a mask. If you have not already been provided one, please contact your manager or Human Resources.
- Bottled water is now being rationed by stores. We need to prioritize the availability of safe drinking water for our field personnel, so we will not be stocking the offices with bottled water. Each office should have water dispensers or fountains available for staff to obtain clean drinking water.
- Our business offices have now been closed to the public. Vendors and delivery drivers are being provided with special instructions to minimize the need to enter our buildings or make contact with staff.
- We are continuing to work with managers to identify situations where it is necessary and feasible for employees to work remotely.
- Our email “hotline” remains available for any employee to directly contact Human Resources and executive management with questions or concerns.
- If you know of anyone who is not receiving this email, please bring it to management’s attention so that we can ensure they are receiving these updates.
Once again, we want to express our thanks to our employees for ensuring that our communities retain access to the critical services that Sebastian provides.
March 20th, 2020
First, we want to thank all our employees for your willingness to support our customers during this uncertain time. Providing critical services is something that we take pride in as a company, but it also means that we have an obligation to serve during difficult times. We appreciate your commitment to your work.
Yesterday, the Governor of California issued an order that extends Fresno and Sacramento’s “shelter in place” guidelines state-wide. Executive management has reviewed this order. We remain confident that our operations fall within the federal government’s definition of “critical infrastructure work” and that employees should remain on the job. We have also taken steps to keep our workplaces safe through measures such as “social distancing” (workers no closer than six feet apart) and sanitizing the office three times per day.
We understand that this is an uncertain time, and that some employees may have concerns about reporting to their job site. If so, please contact Human Resources to discuss your options before making the decision not to report to work.
Due to health concerns, the executive team has made the decision to cancel our Annual Awards Banquet. However, we will still be publishing a company yearbook and honoring employees through Outstanding Performance Awards. Please be sure to provide your department highlights, and any OPA nominations, to Sarah Gonzales.
We would also like to share the following information with you:
- It is important that you report any potential concerns or exposures to management immediately. Please address your concerns to HR/executive management directly.
- We are analyzing the feasibility and necessity of working from home for office personnel. Your manager may be in contact with you to gather information related to this analysis. We already have several employees who are working from home due to circumstances that require it.
- We are in the process of closing our business offices to the public and will be providing customer assistance by phone, mail, and electronically.
- Sebastian’s benefits package includes access to a free Employee Assistance Program, with resources including counseling, financial planning, etc. Please take advantage of this benefit if it would be useful to you and your family. More information is available from Human Resources or at this link: http://www.insighteap.com/.
- Any employees who are allergic to cleaning and sanitization products (Clorox wipes, Lysol, hand sanitizer, etc.) should notify Human Resources immediately so that we can accommodate you.
- Under the new rules, a jobsite owner or general contractor CAN request an employee’s temperature to be taken to verify their health. However, a Sebastian representative would be the one to perform this test – not the general contractor or project owner.
March 19th, 2020
Management continues to monitor the rapidly changing situation regarding COVID-19. At this time, we plan to provide updates to staff at least every other day. We believe that frequent and open communication is the best way forward during uncertain times. We ask that staff remain calm and confident that management is monitoring the situation – if new information becomes available, we will adjust our response, as necessary.
To ensure that employees have an easy way to communicate questions or concerns to management, we want to keep an open form of communication with HR and our Executive staff.. Our goal is to respond quickly – we will attempt to respond by close of business to any inquiries sent before noon and will respond by the next business day to any emails received after that point.
We would like to remind employees that it is important for each worksite to consistently follow the same safety protocols at each location. For example, all locations should be wiping down frequently touched surfaces two to three times daily. Any questions regarding safety protocols should be addressed to HR or to the email address above.
It is also very important that any concerns regarding exposure to the virus are IMMEDIATELY communicated to Human Resources. Decisions on issues related to COVID-19 should not be made without consulting with Human Resources.
We will follow up tomorrow with another update. In the meantime, please feel free to use the new email distribution group for any questions or concerns.
March 18th, 2020
Sebastian considers the health and safety of our employees and their families our priority. Our company has been monitoring developments with COVID-19. When responding to an infectious disease, our company closely follows the recommendations made by our state and county health departments. We also monitor and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plus the World Health Organization.
The situation continues to change rapidly. Health and governmental officials are taking preventative measures intended to reduce the spread of the disease. These measures include the closure of schools and certain types of businesses. “Shelter in place” directives are being issued, asking citizens to remain at home except for necessary errands, or to perform work that is essential to the community. Such a directive has already been issued in Sacramento, and another will be going into effect in Fresno tomorrow.
How Does This Impact Sebastian?
Businesses performing essential work – including telecommunications/Internet services, other infrastructure services, and trades such as electrical work – are exempted from the “shelter in place” directives. Management believes that Sebastian’s work falls within these exemptions. Public health officials recommend that employees engaged in essential tasks continue to practice “social distancing” – keeping at least six feet away from others and taking other standard precautions (washing frequently, etc.) We are also in close contact with general contractors and project owners and will follow their directives regarding jobsites.
How Does This Impact Me?
Sebastian has taken steps to mitigate the risk of infection in the workplace. Because we provide services that are essential, employees are still expected to report to work unless other arrangements have been made with their supervisor, or unless they are feeling ill. In that event, employees should notify their supervisor and seek medical assistance if needed.
What Steps Is Sebastian Taking?
Steps taken by Sebastian include the following:
- Frequent disinfection of commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles
- Distributing supplies such as hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, masks, and gloves to all offices and to field personnel
- Relocating employee workspaces to facilitate “social distancing” (working more than six feet apart)
- Reducing or eliminating travel and face-to-face meetings
- Allowing telecommuting when necessary and appropriate
- Creating an internal crisis team responsible for keeping up with the latest information and communicating with employees
Management will continue to monitor the situation and will provide regular updates to employees. We understand that the future is uncertain, and that uncertainty creates stress. We will do our best to keep employees informed as quickly as possible.
If you have questions about these policies or how they impact you, please contact your supervisor. Supervisors – if you have questions, please contact Human Resources.