Guidance regarding Coronavirus is changing daily, and as an employer, you will need to monitor the latest government announcements daily, but that said, there is some categorical guidance that has been laid out at this point that as a responsible employer, you will want to adhere to.
Coronavirus has spread from China and entered the United Kingdom. However, having knowledge and using caution can support your employees and safeguard your business.
About the Coronavirus
The outbreak of coronavirus brings flu-like symptoms and severe pneumonia. These were initially based around an animal market located in Wuhan City, China, but there has now been a transmission from person to person since the initial coverage all over the globe.
Essentially, coronavirus can trigger severe physical symptoms in individuals with weak immune systems, older people, and people who experience long-term health problems such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Guidance for Employers
In relation to your employee’s general health and wellbeing and in regards to employee group risk factors, healthcare and international health and risk insurances, the agreement is that your standard terms and conditions will continue to apply.
It should be considered that insurances which will be more likely relevant for this situation are, life and income protection and will remain broadly unimpacted. Other insurance policies, such as medical, dental and critical illness will not necessarily feature in regards to Coronavirus or could have exclusion as part of standard applicable terms.
Self Isolation and Sick Pay
Employees and workers will be expected to be given Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) because of them needing to self-isolate for the reasons as follows:
- They have coronavirus
- They have coronavirus symptoms, such as a high temperature or new continuous cough
- Someone in their designated household has coronavirus or the symptoms
- They’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
- If someone has symptoms and lives alone, they must self-isolate for 7 days.
- If someone lives in a household and is the first to have symptoms, they must self-isolate for 7 days. Everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.
- If anyone else in the household begins displaying symptoms, the person with new symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period.
Social Distancing, Flexible Working or Working From Home
The current government advice for all people is to cease all unnecessary contact with other individuals as a form of ‘social distancing’. This includes:
- Working from home where possible
- Avoiding commuting times on public transport
- Avoiding social gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home
Employers need to support their workforce to take these measures. This may include:
- Consenting to flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting hours
- Permitting staff to work from home where possible
- Cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to remote calling where possible, perhaps using video calling technology for meetings
The Bottom Line
If you employ people, the guidance for employers and businesses on GOV.UK will help you and your employees prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Health and safety law state employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers. You can take reasonable precautions by following Public Health England’s guidance for your specific sector.
At Swan Craig Solicitors, we understand that this is a highly challenging time for employers. With this in mind, we offer professional, affordable and understanding employment legal services and guidance. The services extend to a range of business legal advice on commercial matters. To speak to any of our professional and friendly team, please contact our specialists today.