As the coronavirus situation develops employers are having to deal with the unique challenges it poses. This includes keeping up with employment law developments and considering whether there are any precautionary measures they can put into place to try to minimise disruption to the organisation.
We look at both of these areas below.
From an employment law perspective, employers may wish to consider taking steps such as:
- Encouraging employees to maintain good hygiene by providing hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes and encouraging frequent hand-washing
- Keeping updated with government advice and communicating this to employees
- Assessing whether placing restrictions on work related travel is appropriate
- Ensuring employees who can, have the ability to work remotely. Where employees do not already work from home or you have a query relating to a specific employee you should contact your Employment Law Specialist to discuss your situation
- Putting in place a management plan for the continuity of business in the event of a widespread outbreak
- Being aware of what action the organisation may be able to take if the coronavirus situation reduces the amount of work available for employees or it becomes necessary to temporarily close the workplace for some reason
Remember, it’s important for employers to ensure that they treat all employees fairly and reasonably when dealing with coronavirus related matters to avoid complaints such as discrimination.
It has been reported that there have been incidents of racial harassment in relation to coronavirus with instances of some people being perceived to be at a greater risk of having it due to their race or nationality and being subjected to detrimental treatment as a result. Whilst such harassment does not seem to be a widespread workplace issue, it’s important that employers are alert to it and ensure that employees treat each other with dignity and respect.
Statutory Sick Pay Update
You may remember that the government announced it would be bringing in emergency changes in relation to statutory sick pay (SSP) and coronavirus to help support employers and employees:
Regulations to bring into force one of the key changes have been made today and will take immediate effect. Those who are self-isolating in order to prevent the infection or spread of coronavirus in accordance with public health guidance and who are unable to work as a result will be entitled to SSP.
Emergency legislation, to provide that SSP will be available from the first day of sickness absence, is expected to be laid before Parliament next week.
We will keep you up to date with developments. In the meantime, if you have any employment law matters we can assist you with please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.