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Coronavirus: Advice for employers and employees

03 March 2020

Harriet Gardner

Our top tips to you as an employer or employee regarding the Coronavirus:

  • Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace.
  • Make sure that all employee’s numbers and emergency contact numbers are up to date.
  • Make sure managers are aware of symptoms and know the processes, for example, sickness reporting and sick pay.
  • Make sure that there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly.
  • Give out hand sanitizers and tissues to staff if they don’t already have them.
  • Consider protective masks for people in very vulnerable situations.
  • Consider if any travel planned to affected areas is essential.

The company’s usual sick leave and pay would apply if someone has coronavirus and employees should let their employers know as soon as possible if they know they cannot make it to work.

There is no legal right to pay if someone is not sick but they cannot work because they:

  • Have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate
  • Have gone into quarantine
  • Are abroad in an affected area and are not allowed to travel back into the UK.

However, it is good practice for the employer to treat the time off as sick leave or to agree for the time to be taken as annual leave. If this is not possible, there is a risk that the employee will come to work because they want to get paid and they are at risk of spreading the virus.

If an employee is not sick but their employer instructs the employee not to go to work, the employee should be entitled to paid leave at their usual rate of pay.

Employees are entitled to time off work to look after someone who is dependant of them. There is no right to paid time off in this instance and employees are encouraged to revert to their staff handbook for further information relating to their entitlement to pay and the process involved. Any time taken to care for dependants must be reasonable and may involve unexpected emergencies cause by the coronavirus:

  • If the employee needs time off to care for their child / to arrange for someone to look after their child because the school has closed.
  • To help their child if they’re sick or need to go into hospital.

Some employees may not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching the coronavirus and so the employer should listen to the staff concerns. If they’re genuine concerns, then the employer should try and resolve the worries of the employee. They could offer more flexible hours or try and change the contact. If the employee still doesn’t want to attend work, they may be able to arrange the time off as a holiday or unpaid leave, however, this is at the employer’s discretion. If the employee refuses to attend work, it could result in disciplinary action.

If someone goes to work who has the coronavirus, the workplace doesn’t have to close. The local health protection team will get in contact with the employer to:

  • Identify people who have been in contact with the affected person;
  • Carry out a risk assessment; and
  • Advise on any action which needs to be taken.

 

If you have any queries please don’t be hesitant to contact Harriet Gardner on 0114 272 1884 or harriet@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

 

 

 

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