All employers have an obligation to maintain a safe place of work for their staff and these obligations apply to Coronavirus as much as anything else.
Here are a number of practical steps that employers should follow to help keep employees safe and a FREE poster showing the preventative measures you should take in the work place:
- Restrict travel to affected areas for work. Where travel is not critical, cancelling trips would be advised.
- Ask staff to update you if they or family members are travelling to affected areas.
- Ensure that staff are aware they should be seeking medical advice if they think they may have been infected. Make sure that they know to isolate themselves and call a medical helpline such as NHS 111 to reduce the risk of spreading any infection.
- Issue staff with FAQs on the virus and how to prevent its spread or direct them to relevant public health sites such as: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
- Have a plan for employees should they become affected. Isolation is key to minimizing the spread of Coronavirus so employees should be made aware that they should not be coming into the office if they are displaying symptoms.
- A company can choose to suspend employees returning from an affected area just as a precaution. However, it would have to be on full pay unless the contract gives the employer a right to suspend without pay for this reason.
In summary, if there are no symptoms then there is no reason for employees not to be at work. However, it is your obligation to make sure your team are safe so take action to minimise travel to affected areas, educate your employees on the symptoms and the best treatment, react quickly to any information received regarding potential cases and have a plan agreed as to how you will respond should employees be affected or travelling to affected areas. Finally, make sure you are aware of the latest news updates and advice so you can continue to keep your team safe.
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