With the increasing risk of Coronavirus having a major impact effect on businesses, schools and other organisations, questions are being asked about how organisations should respond to employee related issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

A: Coronavirus apparently starts with a fever, followed by a dry cough. After a week, it leads to shortness of breath and some patients require hospital treatment.

Q: I have an employee in the office who has developed mild Coronavirus or flu like symptoms. They are not unwell enough to be signed off sick but have been advised to self-quarantine until further notice by their GP. How do I treat their absence?

A: It would obviously make sense for the GP to actually sign the employee off sick so as to take advantage of any available company sick pay, or SSP. Arguably if an employee is signed off by their GP then they are technically sick. If that isn't possible then there is no right to be paid.

Q: Are there any alternatives if there is no right for an employee to be paid?

A: Employees could take annual leave, or ask to work flexibly from home. Clearly, with some occupations homeworking simply isn’t feasible.

Q: What about employees who are fine but do not want to come to work through fear of catching Coronavirus?

A: The same principles/options as above would apply.

Q: Can we discipline an employee who refuses to attend work through fear of catching Coronavirus?

A: In theory, yes but currently there must be a real risk that any dismissal would be regarded as unfair by a Tribunal. Circumstances might change if Coronavirus remains an ongoing risk over the next few months.

Q: Are there any practical things we can do in the workplace?

A: Encourage extra hand washing – and consider providing things like Hand Sanitiser tubes/bottles for employees to use/keep. In addition, if an employee attends work with flu like symptoms, then unless they have already sought advice from their GP, then they should be encouraged to seek medical asap - perhaps asking them to work away from other employees if they have to remain in the office for a period of time. 

Q: Is there any other guidance available?

A: ACAS has just published its own guide about Coronavirus.

CONTACT: Christopher Filor
EMAIL: cfilor@filorsolicitors.co.uk   TELEPHONE: 01647 231475
MOBILE: 07891 055856   www.filorsolicitors.co.uk
This publication is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should take legal advice before applying the information contained in this briefing.
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