Following on from our previous article, Coronavirus advice for employers, the rules and advice around Coronavirus has been constantly changing.
The current government advice is:
For those who come under one of the below categories, employers must take extra steps to protect them:
The government has strongly advised that strict social distancing measures should be taken.
For those who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ due to underlying health conditions (they will have received a letter from the NHS), they have been told to ’shield’ themselves for 12 weeks. If your employee has already been informed or think they may be told to shield, you should support them during this difficult period and adhere to any advice they are given.
If an employee doesn’t want to go in to work as they fear they may catch Coronavirus, the employer must try and make reasonable adjustments to diminish this risk. For example, they could introduce flexible working hours for those who travel using public transport so they aren’t travelling at rush hour. Or, for those who can drive, they may offer parking spaces, so they don’t have to take public transport.
If the employee refuses to go in to work, the employer may suggest them taking unpaid leave. Disciplinary action is to be taken as a last resort.
Employees are protected by the law from day 1 of their employment for unfair treatment and dismissal because of:
It can be considered unlawful discrimination to force an employee in one of the above categories to:
It is important to take this into account when considering whether employees need to come into work.
The government announced on 20th March that they will pay up to 80% of employees’ wages who aren’t able to work due to Coronavirus.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that for those employees that are kept on by their employers, they will have up to £2,500 a month covered by the government. This was implemented to reduce the number of jobs that would be lost.
Employees are eligible to SSP from day one of their absence from work.
For the first 7 days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need to provide any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence.
If an employee has a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work, they are able to apply for ESA which gives them money to help with living costs if they can’t work, and support to get back into work if they’re able to. This applies to those who are employed, self-employed or unemployed.
All schools are now closed in England, Scotland and Wales, apart from the teaching of children of key workers.
If employees require emergency time off for childcare or to make new arrangements, they can use time off for dependants or holiday entitlement (if the employer is in agreement).
Employers may consider offering flexible working to support those affected, e.g. working from home or altering working hours for childcare.
There should be regular contact between the employer and employee to ensure time off or the changing of working hours can be planned ahead.
Employers should encourage their employees to work from home wherever possible. They should be given support to do so, which may include ordering extra equipment.
If your employees are working from home, as an employer, you should pay them as normal. You should have regular contact with them and check on their mental health and wellbeing.
Below are just a few suggestions that employers can share with employees to ensure a happy and productive workforce:
It is a very dynamic environment currently, and it is important to keep a check on government rules and regulations. If you require any further information or updates, get in touch with our Employment Law team at email@example.com.