Dealing with Coronavirus in the Workplace

Date Added 07.03.20

As you know, coronavirus is a hot topic at the moment. It can be a worry for companies to know how to keep staff safe during this time and how to handle absences for staff who are in self-quarantine, or ill with the coronavirus.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said that staff in self-quarantine may be eligible for SSP and Boris Johnson has said that staff should be paid SSP for the first three days of their absence.

What does that mean to you?

Staff returning from affected areas:

If a member of staff returns from an affected area, they should call NHS 111. If they’re displaying symptoms, even mild ones, they will most likely be advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. Each case will need to be looked at individually and staff should be encouraged to phone NHS 111 for the latest advice and to follow it. Currently, the advice from NHS 111, is that if they don’t have symptoms, staff can go to work as usual. This may change, so it’s important to follow the advice of NHS 111 at the time.

Staff in self-quarantine:

Staff who are advised to self-quarantine by NHS 111 or their GP, are eligible for SSP, or company sick pay, depending on your policy. Those who aren’t advised to self-quarantine, are not.

Staff returning to work without symptoms:

You may find that staff are concerned if a colleague has been to an affected area and returns to work, even if they don’t have symptoms. Staff with these concerns should be encouraged to raise them with management, rather than behave disruptively towards the colleague in question.

Everyday guidance:

COVID-19 is ultimately a virus just like influenza and the many other viral illnesses, which go around from time to time. The virus can cause more severe symptoms in those suffering from respiratory problems, weakened immune systems, cancer, diabetes or those who are elderly.

In order to best protect yourselves and your colleagues, all staff should follow the below advice on personal hygiene and should:

  • Wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water;
  • If they cannot wash their hands, use hand sanitiser gel instead;
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze;
  • Bin any used tissues as soon as possible;
  • Try to avoid close contact with those who are unwell.

ACAS have also published guidance for employers, which answers a lot of FAQs, such as:

  • Does sick pay still apply if the employee is in self-quarantine?
  • What should staff be paid where we have told them not to come into work, but they’re not sick?
  • What should we do if someone becomes sick at work?
  • What would we do if someone comes into work with coronavirus?
  • What should we do if an employee doesn’t want to come into work?

The guidance can be found here: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus, but as always, if you have questions, then talk to Tollers. We’re here for you.

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