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Coronavirus guidance for employers
03 Mar 2020

Employment Partner Julia Fitzsimmons looks at some of the concerns from employers during the current coronavirus outbreak…

What is COVID-19?

Covid-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus, a family of illnesses from across the world. As a new virus, there is a lack of immunity in the population which means it can spread quickly. 

How can we reduce the risk to our employees?

In the first instance, employers should consider an email to staff reminding them that the Government guidance is to wash their hands thoroughly and use and dispose of tissues appropriately. 

Up to date information for employees travelling to or returning to work from abroad can be found here. 

If an employee believes they are symptomatic, and have recently visited one of the areas identified as being a focus of the outbreak, you should advise them to remain at home and call 111.

We have employees who have decided to self-isolate and also some in quarantine but they are not currently ill – what are the rules around sick pay in this situation?

There is no legal right to sick pay in these circumstances, unless a GP or NHS guidance via 111 has given an official sick note. However it could be considered as good practice especially if receiving no sick pay could mean a return to the office and potential infecting others if they do become symptomatic. 

We have employees who have family members with weakened immune systems and they are worried about coming into work. What’s the best way to deal with this?

Employers can offer flexible working arrangements, a period of home-working after listening to the concerns of employees but there is no requirement for employers to offer this in these circumstances. You could consider offering time off as paid or unpaid leave. 

Other sources of information for businesses looking for guidance can be found on gov.uk and on the ACAS website.  

If you would like to speak one of our Employment & HR Specialists please contact Julia at the details below.

Meet Julia Fitzsimmons