Coronavirus COVID-19: guidance for employers
- AuthorJames Hodgson
All employers have a statutory duty of care for their employee’s health and safety and to provide a safe place to work. If you’re an employer, here’s what you need to know.
How can I prevent the spread of infection in my business?
The virus is most likely spread when there is close contact (two metres or less) with an infected person, through secretions produced by coughs or sneezes. Coronavirus might also be spread by touching something that has been contaminated and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Public Health England recommends the following precautions:
- covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing
- disposing quickly of used tissues
- washing hands with soap and water thoroughly and frequently
- avoiding close contact with people who are unwell
- regular and thorough disinfecting of surfaces and objects which are frequently touched
- not touching the eyes, nose or mouth unless hands are clean
Communicating with staff
Remind your workforce of the need to take basic hygiene precautions, including hand-washing, avoiding travel to affected areas and avoiding contact with infected or potentially infected people.
Certifying absence from work
By law, medical evidence is not needed for the first seven days of sick absence. After 7 days, employers should determine what evidence (if any) they require from a sick employee. This does not necessarily need to be a Med 3 form issued by a doctor. The Government is urging employers to exercise discretion regarding the need for medical evidence for absences due to self-isolation due to suspected Coronavirus.
Coronavirus and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): new measures announced in the Spring 2020 Budget
In the Budget on 11 March 2020, the Government announced new measures related to SSP. Employees or workers are entitled to SSP if they have been advised to self-isolate by the NHS 111 service.
This includes people who might be carriers of the virus who have not had symptoms, as well as people caring for others who display Coronavirus symptoms and who have been advised to self-isolate.
As part of the forthcoming COVID-19 Bill, Statutory Sick Pay will be made available from day one (instead of day four) for those affected by coronavirus and self-isolating.
In the Budget the Government also announced measures whereby businesses with less than 250 employees can claim a refund of up to two weeks per employee for Coronavirus related SSP costs.
It also announced the introduction of a temporary alternative to the ‘fit note’ in the coming weeks and for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. This means those in self-isolation can obtain a notification via the NHS 111 service which can be used as evidence for absence from work.
Sending staff home as a precaution
If you decide to send staff home as a precaution, they should continue to receive their normal pay.
Could your employees work from home?
As an alternative to providing sick pay, you may wish to consider allowing self-isolating employees to work from home, and continue to pay them as normal.
Self-isolation without symptoms or medical advice
Workers who voluntarily self-isolate without symptoms and without your agreement, could be required to attend work. However, it is good practice to take their concerns seriously, especially if there are underlying health conditions.
School closures and childcare
Where can I check the latest information about Coronavirus?
For the latest information and advice about Coronavirus, visit the Government website