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Coronavirus (COVID-19) is grabbing the headlines as it spreads over the globe and more cases are diagnosed in the UK. The impact of the virus on employees and business is worrying for employers. Some guidance has been published recently which employers might find helpful.

The guidance gives more information about the virus, its signs and symptoms and how it is spread. It gives detailed advice about how to prevent the spread of infection through good hygiene. Sneezing into tissues or the crook of the arm – not hands – and regular handwashing are the key points here. It would be good practice to send an email to employees reiterating this advice and asking for their cooperation at work. The guidance also covers what to do if you discover an employee is unwell. Find the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

ACAS has also published some guidance for employers and employees. It gives more practical advice on steps employers can take to help employees reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace. It also tackles some tricky issues such as how to approach absence and sick pay in a variety of circumstances. Find the guidance here: http://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Public Health England has said that widespread transmission of coronavirus in the UK is now highly likely. Employers should keep up to date on information and advice on the government’s website, www.gov.uk. They publish daily updates at 2pm with the latest advice.

From an employment law perspective, if employees self-isolate (but are not actually sick), whether or not on medical advice, they are probably not entitled to sick pay but some employers will want to consider paying them anyway, to help discourage those who might be infected from coming into the workplace.

Find out how we can help.  Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department.  Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].