Coronavirus and how it affects the workplace

Jamie LeeIndustry News

There have been many news reports around Coronavirus and how it affects the workplace, employers and employees. Employees are asking questions such as “Will I get paid during self-isolation?” And “Will I get infected at work?” Rubel Bashir, the Employment Lawyer from Slater and Gordon, has stated that “both employers and employees have a duty of care and  “discretion is needed” with such an unusual situation as a coronavirus outbreak”.

Below we have tried to outline what Coronavirus is, how it may affect you and your workplace and information around self-isolation and pay to help better your understanding and prepare by any means necessary.

What is Coronavirus?

 “COVID-19” is a new illness that can affect your lungs and also your airways. The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses such as the common cold and flu.

How it could also affect your workplace?

Under British law, employers have an obligation to take reasonable steps to protect the staff’s health and safety. They additionally can protect staff by making everyone aware of the virus by providing newsletters and emails.

Bashir said “these include educating staff, sending emails on cleanliness, providing hand sanitisers, cleaning communal areas. Employers are required to take those steps.” As part of the employer’s duty of care they should restrict staff from traveling to places where there has been an outbreak of the virus.

Self-isolation and pay

British law states that medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After the 7 days it is up to the employer to determine what evidence they require if there is any, this also does not have to be a note from your GP. Bashir said, “in terms of payment, it would depend on the contractual right of the employee, it may be statutory pay, which is £94.25 for up to 28 weeks”.

Health secretary, Matt Hancock, said “guidance has been sent to UK employers and said self-isolation should be considered sickness for employment purposes”. Conciliation service Acas, has further recommended if somebody is told not to come into work because they have Coronavirus (COVID-19) they should get their usual pay.

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