COVID-19 – Practical advice for businesses

This article provides some practical guidance for businesses regarding a number of pre-emptive measures that can be taken to help minimise exposure and plan for the spread of Coronavirus.

Advice regarding Coronavirus is changing on a daily basis, so please ensure that you stay up to date with the latest information available via the links provided in this article.

Please get in touch if you are not sure how to respond to a particular situation with an employee, you don’t know where to start with contingency planning (I can provide a free template) or you would like a copy of this communication in another format eg Word so that you can edit it and share as appropriate.

Tele 07913 121290

Email ns@nickysilverhr.co.uk

Practical actions that Employers can take:

  • regularly review the actions being taken in the workplace to reduce the risks of exposure and keep employees updated 
  • ensure that everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • make sure there are clean places for employee to wash their hands with hot water and soap and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds
  • provide staff with hand sanitiser, tissues and antibacterial wipes (for cleaning keyboards, phones, handles, steering wheels etc)
  • ask staff to watch the NHS video on how to wash their hands: How to wash your hands
  • put up posters to remind employees to wash their hands and bin used tissues. Free poster downloads are available here:
  • ensure staff know:
    • how to spot the symptoms of Coronavirus eg a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath. More details at: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
    • understand their legal obligations to cooperate with both government advice and company health and safety procedures
  • have processes in place for staff to report, and the business to record, if employees:
    • are feeling unwell
    • suspect they have symptoms
    • have recently visited or have been in contact with someone who has recently visited any affected areas
    • have recently been in contact with someone who is showing symptoms of the virus or who is in self-isolation
    • have any holidays planned away from home
  • issue a reminder of relevant company policies eg sickness reporting, sick pay, leave entitlements, time off for dependent care, working from home etc
  • ensure cleaning staff have antibacterial products available and use them on door handles, hand washing areas etc
  • consider if protective face masks might help for people working in particularly vulnerable situations eg if taking care of a person with a suspected infection, those classified as at high risk etc
  • review existing business continuity plans and / or draw up a virus specific contingency plan to ensure you are prepared for any potential disruption to your business if: 
    • your supply chain, key roles / staff, distribution, cash flow etc are impacted
    • the location of your business is in a locked down area
    • staff need to work from home eg do you have spare laptops and mobile phones available?
    • work needs to be reorganised amongst staff
    • alternative work can be provided that can be done from home
  • check your business insurance to see if you are covered for an outbreak of disease and if so, whether that specifically covers Coronavirus
  • don’t forget to look after your own health!
  • stay up to date with the latest guidance for employers, businesses and the general public:

Practical steps Employees can take:

  • always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes. Then bin the tissue and immediately wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
  • wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or use hand sanitiser, especially when you:
    • get into work or arrive at home 
    • blow your nose, sneeze or cough
    • eat or handle food
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • refrain from shaking hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • know what symptoms to look out for eg a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath. More details at: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • report to a Manager if you:
    • are feeling unwell
    • suspect you have symptoms
    • have recently visited or have been in contact with someone who has recently visited any affected areas
    • have recently been in contact with someone who is showing symptoms of the virus or who is in self-isolation
    • have any holidays planned away from home
  • don’t visit your Doctor, a pharmacy or a hospital if you have symptoms, instead:

Sick Pay

The government has stated that if NHS 111 or a Doctor advises an employee or worker to self-isolate, then they should receive any Company and / or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) that is due to them, taking into account the Government’s emergency guidance that SSP should be applied from day 1. 

Employees must follow the company’s usual sickness absence reporting procedures if unable to go into work, explaining the reason for their absence, including, if relevant, who specifically has told them to self-isolate and how long they are likely to be off for. They should also provide written evidence or a Fit Note to verify their absence as soon as possible, although some flexibility may be required in how quickly this is available.

Alternatively, depending on the company’s circumstances, the employee may be able to work from home and remain on their normal rates of pay or be offered the option to take the time off as part of their annual holiday allowance.

Self-isolation

If an employee has been advised by NHS 111 or a Doctor to self-isolate, then they should NOT come into work under any circumstances and put others at risk.

Advice is being updated regularly, however people may be asked to self-isolate if they have:

  • returned to the UK after travelling to an affected area
  • are awaiting a Coronavirus test result
  • been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus

The latest information regarding self isolation is available at: Government advice on self-isolating

Employees who refuse to come into work due to the risk of infection

If you have an employee who is concerned about coming into work:

  • speak to them to understand the reasons for their concerns
  • explain the steps the company is taking to reduce the risk of exposure in the workplace
  • provide them with the NHS 111 details to obtain advice 
  • check the latest NHS and government advice and share details with the employee
  • if you feel their reasons for concern are valid eg they are at greater risk of infection due to an underlying medical condition, consider whether they can work from home, take annual or unpaid leave or obtain a fit note from their Doctor

Please get in touch for a free, no obligation chat if you are not sure how to respond to a particular situation with an employee, you don’t where to start with contingency planning (I can provide a free template) or if you would like a copy of this communication in another format eg Word so that you can edit it and share as appropriate 

Tele 07913 121290

Email ns@nickysilverhr.co.uk