The news channels and the internet are absolutely littered at the moment with information on the Coronavirus, so we wanted to put it all in one place for you.
At the time of writing this article, The UK Chief Medical Officers have set the risk of the Coronavirus to the public from low to moderate. So we should definitely be starting to take it seriously as employers.
As employers, we have a duty of care to all of our staff and we must take reasonable steps that are necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all our employees, including those who may be particularly at risk for any reason.
The usual ‘Sick pay’/‘sick leave’ entitlements apply for your business if one of your staff is off due to Coronavirus.
If someone is told to ‘Self Quarantine’ but is completely fit to work, there is no legal right to pay the employee for the period of time if they cannot work. However, it would be good practice to allow this time off as ‘Sickness’ or to agree to take it as annual leave. This is due to the fact, if the Employee does have the coronavirus, you would not want them to come into work and risk an outbreak that could cause your whole business to close temporarily. Inform your Employees, if they believe they have the virus, or they have been told to self-quarantine/isolate they must tell you as soon as possible. So you can take the necessary steps.
If your employee has a dependant who has the virus, they are entitled to time off work, However, again there is no legal or statutory right to pay for this time off. Again, if the dependant is in close contact with your employee (for example a child) and it has been confirmed that they have the coronavirus, it may be wise to assess each situation individually. Do you want an employee coming into your workplace if they could potentially infect others around them?
Unfortunately, this situation is a real one. Employees who believe there is a threat of them contracting Coronavirus, either through travel on public transport or being at work around others.
We would advise you to review the situation regularly, checking on government websites for updates and risks/warnings. Then you can correctly assess the situation, looking at staffing levels and the need for that employee to be in work, but you may also be able to offer them the opportunity to work from home.
If an employee refuses to attend work due to a particular risk, and you (as the employer) do not determine the reason valid after completing a risk assessment, then you may take disciplinary action accordingly.
If the employee is vulnerable, pregnant, or at high risk and is refusing to attend work, you would be advised to seek professional help on these cases and may have to take a more flexible approach. We offer help to all employees on these matters, regarding illness and stress, so please do not hesitate in getting in touch [email protected]