Coronavirus: Advice for Employers

The Coronavirus threatens  to raise further fears among the population at large but – as the Government launches its emergency battle plan – we are pleased to issue early guidance for employers.

BUT please, remember this is an evolving situation.

Symptoms of Coronavirus:

Fever, dry cough, followed by a shortness of breath. In serious cases it can cause pneumonia.

Protecting Employees/Visitors:

Act by providing hand-sanitising gels and soap in rest rooms and urging staff to wash their hands regularly. It may seem “unsociable” but staff should stop shaking hands when meeting clients, suppliers and other visitors. Consider video-style phone calls instead of one-to-one meetings.

What About Sick Pay?:

If staff go sick due to the virus – normal sick pay procedures apply.

Unaffected staff: Put in place a policy to ensure employees who have visited “high risk” areas (and those they have met) are kept off site.

If staff are told to stay away from work as a precaution – normal pay applies.

Those told to stay away, could be given chance to work from home, take holiday or unpaid leave.

Self-quarantine advice:

Staff who have been to “high-risk” areas identified by the Government must self-isolate at home for 14 days. They could be offered the chance to work from home (if this is practical). Working from home could be reviewed as time passes.  If not, their absence should be classed as paid sick leave or holiday. Be aware that some people may have difficulty in getting a sick note for 14 days, if told to self-isolate.

Refusing to travel for work:

This will make sense if travel is proposed to a “high-risk” area. Employees should not be asked to travel on business if it conflicts with the latest Government advice. If the proposed travel is to an area neighbouring a “high risk” country, each case will need to be explored individually.

What If I Suspect an Employee is Abusing the Current Situation?:

There’s no easy answer.  Keep lines of communication open.  You could consider switching someone’s holiday arrangements (if possible)  If you think they plan to deliberately visit a “high risk” area in an attempt to get “extra” time off, you could warn them they risk losing pay or even potential disciplinary action.

This is “at-a-glance” advice from Amica HR.  Each individual company will obviously need to look at what the Coronavirus threat means for the way in which it operates, but we strongly advise any client who is worried about its potential impact to call us on (01522) 370190.


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