Coronavirus Legal Advice for Employers and Employees

David Jones, Solicitor
Author:
David Jones
Employment Law Associate Solicitor
Date:
28/02/2020

Our Employment Law Solicitors wanted to give employees and employers some guidance on what to do if they were in a position where they needed to self-isolate, as this has an impact on both the business, in terms of its ability to operate, and on the staff and their ability to work and earn a wage.

With all the uncertainty around Coronavirus (Covid-19), we asked David Jones, one of our Employment Solicitors to give us some of his thoughts on the employment law issues surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak.

Below we provide Coronavirus info for Employers and Coronavirus info for Employees.

For initial legal advice contact our Employment Law Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Paying Staff in Self-Isolation

The medical guidance is that you should self-isolate if you’ve travelled to places near where the virus is. If you have a member of staff who has Coronavirus, your usual sickness absence policies will apply.

Employers will need to be flexible for staff who are self-isolating on the advice of a medical expert. If they are well, and they have the ability to work remotely, you can consider this option.

If they are well, but can’t work remotely, had to go into quarantine or are still abroad and not allowed to travel back to the UK, it would be good practice for you to treat this as sick leave or allow them to take it as holiday.

If you don’t do this, there is a real risk that they will come to work to avoid the drop in pay, and potentially spread the virus if they do have it. It is also arguable that refusing to pay an employee who has been advised by a medical expert to self-isolate could be a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence, which opens up the risk of a claim by an employee.

If your business operates globally and you have employees who travel regularly, you should have contingency plans in place and be monitoring guidance closely.

As an employee, have a chat with your employer about their policy relating to Coronavirus so you are clear from the outset where you stand.

Coronavirus info for Employers

Here are some simple steps you can take as an employer to help keep your employees safe. You should:

  • Update staff regularly on what you’re doing to reduce the chance of exposure at work
  • Tell managers and supervisors what symptoms to look for
  • Update everyone on the important processes such as sickness reporting
  • Encourage good workplace hygiene from everyone and tell them what this looks like
  • Consider in advance whether any planned work travel to affected areas is essential
  • Consider if the use of protective facemasks is appropriate
  • Make sure soap, hand sanitiser and tissues are available to everyone
  • Make sure you have up to date emergency contact details for all your staff

Makes sure you’re up to date with the latest information and advice at Gov.uk and NHS websites.

Coronavirus info for Employees

If you have Coronavirus, your normal sickness absence policy at work will apply.

Your employer should be encouraging you to be sensible and not come to work if you’ve been anywhere that puts you at risk and you’ve been told to self-isolate by a medical professional, even if you don’t have symptoms.

It would be best practice for your employer to offer you sick pay in line with their usual sickness absence policy or give you the choice to take it as annual leave.

You may be concerned about going into work and depending on the risk and the feasibility, your employer may have a contingency plan in place so you can work from home. But you should be aware that if you refuse to go into work, you could face disciplinary action.

If you have to take time off to look after someone in your family, there’s no legal right to paid leave, but your employer could decide to pay you and so it is worth raising this issue with your employer.

If you are unwell and have any flu-like symptoms, you should call 111 for help and advice and not leave home.

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