Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:26 Feb 2020 Last Updated:22 Sep 2021

What should employers and employees do about coronavirus?

Employment Law Advice

ACAS have published some helpful advice for employers and employees on coronavirus

There is also useful guidance on NHS and Gov.uk websites.

What if an employee puts themselves in quarantine?

There is always a dilemma for an employee when they are feeling unwell, but still well enough to attend work. Should you go to work and risk infection of those around you? You should always speak to your employer about concerns that you have and follow medical guidance.

If you put yourself in quarantine and you cannot work, there is no right to pay. Strictly speaking this could be dealt with as unpaid leave.

I would always advise an employer to see if an employee could work from home, treat absence as sickness, take holiday, paid leave, or agree to make up the time.

Employers should consider

As an employer you have a fundamental duty to protect the health and safety of your staff. I suggest that you should:

  • Remind employees about how to avoid the spread of germs. You may wish to consider posters in common areas, bathrooms and kitchens reminding employees to: wash hands thoroughly with hot water and soap, use tissues, and avoid touching face when hands not clean;
  • Ensure there are places for employees’ to be able to wash their hands, and dispose of tissues;
  • Update employees on any measures taken in the workplace in relation to for example phoning in sick, and/or who should be visiting the workplace;
  • Encourage staff to discuss any concerns that they may have with you before attending work;
  • Monitor holiday and discuss return to work with anyone that has been to impacted areas;
  • Make sure you have your employees’ up to date contact details and a way to contact them if there is an emergency. An emergency or decision to close a workplace could arise because of various different reasons, for example a snow day or
    coronavirus;
  • Catching coronavirus in the workplace is currently low, however give some consideration to how you would deal with such a situation if this changes.
  • If you did decide to close the workplace in an emergency, whether this is to do with weather conditions or infection, employees are entitled to receive full pay during the time the workplace is closed.

In summary, it is really important for employers to consider the impact that your actions in emergency situations (e.g. snow days) could take on staff morale in the future. If you treat staff unreasonably in an emergency situation e.g. snow day or coronavirus, this is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on future morale, which in turn could damage your business.

If you have any employment or HR related questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, Kate Brooks, on 01202 057754 or kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk