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This page was updated on 31 March 2020.

 

As an employer we understand that the health, safety and wellbeing of your workforce is your top priority.

Keeping your teams informed  

We recommend that you stay informed by reading the latest information from the following sources.  

  • UK Government have released guidance for employers and businesses which outlines everything you should consider around managing people during this incident.  
     
  • Ensure that you follow NHS advice if you or any of your employees suspect you may have Coronavirus 

  • The latest government advice is for people to work from home wherever they possibly can. For tips and tools on agile working, access our Guide to Remote Working here.

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against non essential travel worldwide until at least the 15th April. For individuals living in the UK and currently travelling abroad, if commercial flights are available, the FCO also advises immediate return to the UK. 

    If commercial flights have ceased, the government announced on the 30th March that it will provide the support necessary to finance special charter flights. These will be promoted as soon as they are arranged through the government’s travel advice and by the British Embassy or High Commission in the relevant country.

Preventing the spread of Coronavirus 

On the 23rd March, the government announced the closure of all non-essential businesses and premises to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All businesses not on the list, can remain open. However, employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees' health and safety in the workplace and comply with the latest government guidance. Specifically for construction sites, the Construction Leadership Council has developed Site Operating Procedures (SOP), which are aligned with the latest Public Health England guidance and aim to protect workers and further minimise risk of spread of infection. 


If there has been a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in your business facility, refer to this guidance on decontamination. Read more here.

Promote good workplace hygiene

Public Health England have produced a selection of posters and materials to help employers who are to remain open and have people in their offices or onsite ensure good workplace hygiene and prevent the spread of the virus.  

Download information materials and posters

What if a team member suspects they have Coronavirus?

The latest advice is to self-isolate for a period of 7 days if living alone. If living with others and is the first to exhibit symptoms, they must self-isolate for 7 days and everyone else in the household has to self-isolate for 14 days. Additional details can be seen here.

NHS' page on self-isolation provides the information that your employees need to know about why and how to do this. If people are or feel well they are able to work from home. If not then self-isolation should be treated as sickness leave. You can find out more about this in the UK Government’s guidance to employers and businesses.

ACAS have released guidance for employers who want to understand their legal position around sick leave and pay entitlements if someone has or is suspected of having coronavirus.

If there has been a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in your business facility, refer to this guidance on decontamination. Read more here.

What to do if you need to or have closed due to Coronavirus?

The government has released a Job Retention Scheme where a business may need to temporarily ‘Furlough’ employees – more information can be found here.

 

Following the Budget 2020, the following revisions to employee benefits were announced:

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The Government have previously announced that SSP is to be paid from day one of sick leave for people in self-isolation. In the Budget on 11 March it was announced that firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for up to 14 days of SSP paid to staff that are self-isolating.

Employers must maintain records of staff absence, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
If the employer requires evidence, for those isolated exhibiting coronavirus symptoms an isolation note can be obtained from NHS 111 online. If living with someone who has the symptoms, the employee can get a note via the NHS website 

We will provide a link to the rebate scheme once this has been launched.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

Self-employed workers that are not eligible for SSP and need to self-isolate can claim ESA from the first day, rather than after seven days. 

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme 

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will provide self-employed people a guaranteed income of 80% of their trading profit, up to £2,500 per month for at least three months. More details on the scheme can be seen here.

 

Practicalities of operating in a changing work environment 

Due to government advice, everyone is being advised to work from home unless essential, therefore many businesses will be working with a skeleton team on site and many staff working remotely.

Here is some advice and support for working in this changing environment:


Skeleton Team on site – there may be practicalities to consider with this such as ensuring you have adequate cover, ensuring key holders are fully trained and equipped to cover these responsibilities

Lone Working – employees working alone onsite is a key risk, if you do not have a lone working policy in place you can refer to this guidance from the Health and Safety Executive

Remote Working – Switching you workforce to remote working will require you to have the correct systems in place. To help your business adapt view our Guide to Remote Working

Staff skillset – Ensure you are prepared for skills gaps, where staff have been lost or where you have changed the way that you operate. Aim to have three people trained up for each essential skill in your business. This creates a diversity of skills across your workforce, ensuring resilience if your workforce is depleted. This factsheet on multiskilling can help you. Don't forget to communicate with your teams around how to develop resilience at a difficult time

 

For more information get in touch with us here.