Coronavirus Employer Support
Posted: Sunday March 8 2020
By: Banner Jones Solicitors
When the first cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) were reported last month, it was widely assumed it would run its course relatively quickly, with a minimal number of people affected resulting in little impact on the UK economy. Fast forward a week or so, and the landscape has somewhat changed – with the Government now taking action to minimise the spread, and the headlines suggesting that an epidemic is now on the cards.
Coronavirus Employer Support
How best to be prepared for outbreaks of sickness in the workplace
Coronavirus Employer Support – In order to help tackle the issue, those displaying symptoms, or those who have come into contact with someone travelling to and from an affected area, have been advised to ‘self-isolate’ for a period of time.
Advice that could have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to work.
Here, our Head of Employment Law Katie Ash talks about the role, and the rights, of an employer when situations such as this arise.
Of course, any responsible employer would want to ensure that the wellbeing of staff is at the forefront of any decision made with regards sickness and absenteeism.
However, nobody could have predicted the outbreak of Coronavirus or how rapidly it has spread over the past few weeks, and many business owners will rightly have concerns about how to maintain productivity if any employees become affected (or indeed, infected).
Firstly, it’s important to remember that whilst the circumstances here are certainly unique, the overarching theme of illness at work is not, and a clear sickness policy which outlines how you will aim to manage employee’s absence due to sickness should be in place, and the details included in their employment contract.
Your policy should clearly outline what is expected from an employee if they are deemed unfit for work, including who they should contact, when they are expected to provide a sickness note from a GP and guidance on the support they will receive when returning to work.
And whilst it is unlikely to be necessary in cases such as Coronavirus, you should also make clear what the procedure is with long-term sickness and what will happen if returning to work is not a viable option.
What though, many of you may be asking, are your rights as a business owner if your staff member is not sick, but has been recommended to undergo self-isolation because of the virus?
Simply put, at the time of writing this article, there is no legal requirement for an employer to provide sickness pay in these circumstances.
Nevertheless, it may be good practice to treat the absence as sick leave or agree the time to be taken as holiday to avoid risking the employee coming into work and having the threat that they may spread the virus.