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How To Deal With Coronavirus In The Workplace
March 2020

We have started to receive enquiries from employers in relation to how to deal with coronavirus in the workplace and have set out advice in relation to common questions below. How can we reduce the risk to our employees?

Employers should send round an email/guidance encouraging employees to be extra-vigilant with washing their hands, using and disposing of tissues etc. If you have the capacity to do so, it may be worth designating an ‘isolation room’ where an employee who feels ill can go and sit away from the rest of the company and privately call ‘111’ before taking any further necessary action. If an employee is not sick but is in quarantine or self-isolation, do we have to pay them sick pay? Assuming that someone who self isolates does so because they are given a written notice, typically issued by a GP or by 111, then they are deemed in accordance to be incapable of work, and so are entitled to statutory sick pay. If somebody chooses to self-isolate, and/or is not given that written notice, then they are not entitled to statutory sick pay. What if employees do not want to come to work? Some people may be worried about catching coronavirus and therefore unwilling to come into work. If this is the case you should listen carefully to the concerns of your employees and if possible, offer flexible working arrangements such as homeworking. Employees can also request time off as holiday or unpaid leave but there is no obligation on employers to agree to this. If an employee refuses to attend work, you are entitled to take disciplinary action. However, our view is that dismissal is likely to be outside the range of reasonable responses, at least for now. If someone refuses to come into work and the COVID-19 issues continue into the medium term, the view might change. Acas has also produced workplace specific guidance which is available on its website and sets out the steps employers should be taking.

If you require any further advice or if your industry has been affected by coronavirus such that you have a downturn in work, please contact us at employment@jolliffes.com.

An important disclaimer: this is not legal advice on your circumstances.

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