COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What you need to know – the latest Government advice
Do not meet others, even friends or family.
You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
Lockdown from Friday 20th March
At 5pm on Friday 20th March all pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and retail outlets not selling essentials such as food were advised to close their doors as soon as possible on that day.
This led to a further announcement to outline details of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS), outlining that employees would benefit from a grant from HMRC which will cover 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 per month (which employers can top up the extra 20%) to retain as many jobs as possible during this time. More information an be found on 'Furlough' here.
Schools to close from at the end of the school day Friday 20th March
Schools closing across the UK will have an impact care and working arrangements. This could be a difficult time for parents, and employers should plan to cover this in the workplace.
If employees need emergency time off for childcare or to make new arrangements, they can use:
Businesses and employers should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible.
If that isn’t possible, there are some simple steps which employers can take to assist in protecting
the health and safety of employees during this pandemic:
• Ensure that employees are updated on the actions which are undertaken to reduce risks of
exposure in the workplace
• Keep employee’s personal data including contact numbers and emergency contact details
are up to date in line with GDPR regulations
• The Government has specified some vulnerable categories including people who are
pregnant, aged 70 or over or who have long term health conditions and extra precautions
should be considered for these groups
• Managers should be briefed on how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and know what the
business process’ and policies are relating to sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures
in case someone in the workplace shows symptoms of the virus
• It is essential that are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and all
employees should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly
• If possible, provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff
• Unnecessary travel should be discouraged and meetings should be held remotely instead
What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site
• If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the
business or workplace they should be sent home and go online to NHS 111.
• If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they don’t have
internet access. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at
risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
• If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous
cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms
themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with
someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.
• It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless
government policy changes.
We would encourage you to keep up to date with the latest government coronavirus advice on GOV.UK
The main questions which we are currently receiving from employers is regarding Furlough, for which we have produced a full FAQ which can be found here.
1. Should I let staff who’ve been to affected areas return to work?
Current government guidance is that people who’ve returned from affected areas within the last 14 days, or other high-risk areas, should stay at home even if they don’t show any symptoms.
People returning from affected areas should only stay at home if they have symptoms like a cough, fever, or shortness of breath.
To see an up-to-date list of the countries and areas that pose a risk to travellers and returning employees, visit the UK government’s website.
2. What is my duty of care to employees working from home?
An employer’s duty of care doesn’t stop when an employee leaves the office and this can be deemed as ‘lone working’. Do your employees have the equipment they need? Do they know who their line manager is in the event they need to talk to someone, or an emergency contact? Are they having regular breaks and do they have access to food and drink? WWR can talk to you about your specific situation and advise on your bespoke requirements as an employer.
3. What happens if I have employees with underlying health issues or who are pregnant that aren’t self-isolating, but don’t want to work out of fear?
Where possible, we would recommend they work from home. However, this may not be appropriate depending on your business’ needs. There are several ways we would explore this with you in relation to paid/unpaid leave, which would be assessed on a case by case basis.
4. How much do I have to pay my employees who are self-isolating?
If they have been told to self-isolate by the NHS or Public Health England, then SSP would be payable from day one and without the need for a Fit Note from their GP. Given the situation, employers should still request evidence for self-isolation, but will need to be flexible about how this is received.
Some companies may also operate a Company Sick Pay policy and we would advise on the requirements for this in relation to Covid-19 on a case by case basis.
5. My employees aren’t in roles where they can work from home – what should I do and how can I make sure that we look after our employees at the same time as making sure that we stay afloat?
Where possible we would recommend flexible working. Have all possible additional tasks/roles be explored that they could do from home if their normal role isn’t feasible? Can they take work home?
All cases need to be assessed individually but in worse case scenarios, reduced hour options, or layoff periods could be explored.
6. What happens if I have to close my business temporarily?
If you have the relevant clause in your employment documentation, you can place employees on ‘furlough’, which means they don’t come to work and you pay them 80% of their salary (you may top up the extra 20%) which will be reimbursed up to £2,500 per month by the Government (please see further guidance on our Furlough FAQ here)
7. Which parent should take time off to look after children?
This is a bespoke decision based on the needs of individual roles and families and which parent is more likely to be able to work from home
8. Will I be paid to take time off to look after children?
This will be classed as Dependent Leave and as such there is no current statutory entitlement. However, your individual company may have its own Dependent Leave policy and therefore a discretionary payment scheme.
The UK Government hasn’t given any further clarity on this and we will provide further updates once they have done so.
9. I am a nurse/doctor/carer and my child will be going to school. What will happen if I am infected and cannot carry on working?
We would recommend that you and your complete household self-isolate and follow the NHS guidelines.
10. There is nobody else to look after my child when the school shuts and the business I work for is still open. What are my options?
We would encourage speaking to your employer about working from home/flexible working options. Where this is not possible or practical for the business, it will count as dependent leave.
11. What if I do not have time in the year to allow all employees to take their annual leave once lockdown has ended?
The Government have announced that employees who are not able to take their annual leave in this annual leave year will be entitled to carry it over for 2 years. This will be administered within your organisations internally, however if you need any further assistance with this process please do not hesitate to get in touch with WWR.
For advice please email [email protected]