Coronovirus (COVID-19) is a hot topic at the moment and many people are becoming increasingly concerned about catching the virus.
We have had numerous enquiries from clients including what precautionary measures can be taken. We are not able to provide legal or medical advice as we do not have any qualifications in these areas, but we may be able to offer some practical guidance.
Employers can offer practical advice to employees including being extra cautious by making sure they keep their hands clean at all times and using disposable tissues. If you have the room, you could also consider an isolation room where employees who are feeling unwell can go to and call privately 111 if they are concerned about their symptoms.
So, what about employees who are not unwell but have made the decision to self-isolate or are reluctant to come into work to avoid risk of contamination? Employees do have an obligation to follow the correct reporting procedure and if they are not sick, any leave to self-isolate or avoid contact with others would be subject to the employer’s approval. Employers should discuss their concerns with them and where possible consider other options for example; would it be possible and practical to allow employees to work from home, do they have any holiday entitlement they can use or is the employer willing to consider unpaid leave? If it has been agreed that an employee does not attend work in these circumstances and paid holiday has not been agreed, the employer is not obliged to pay the employee. If an employee has not followed the correct reporting procedure or takes leave without the consent of the employer, it could be viewed as unauthorised absence and as such may considered through the disciplinary procedure.
If the situation continues and starts to affect business and you have a downturn in overall work you, providing you have the contractual right, you can consider either short time working or laying employees off.
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If you feel that you need guidance or advice on this matter, please call Practical HR on 01702 789078 or email Angela on the above.
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