Coronavirus (COVID 19) – Is Your Business Ready?

The UK has seen its biggest daily increase in Coronavirus cases, with over 300 confirmed cases and the number of deaths rising. The Coronavirus is therefore showing no signs of slowing down just yet, with the latest news from England’s Chief Medical Officer that a serious Coronavirus outbreak in Britain is “almost certain” with “some deaths” expected.

It is therefore becoming increasingly important for businesses to give serious thought as to how they might deal with the Coronavirus outbreak and to issuing a policy and/or practical guidance to their workforce at their earliest opportunity. It is also important to continually update any information you provide to staff as the situation develops.

Clear and measured communications with staff, in simple and unambiguous terms are critical at this time. Any communication should answer questions such as; what staff would need to do if they start to develop symptoms; if they discover that they have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed as suffering from the Coronavirus and in what circumstances they should self-isolate?

With this in mind, there are some simple precautions that employers should take including:

  • Stocking up on hand sanitiser, soap and tissues
  • Providing information to staff on the importance of being extra vigilant with hand washing and their use/disposal of tissues when coughing or sneezing
  • Advice in relation to hand-shaking and whether staff should use alternatives such as an ‘elbow bump’
  • Advising on voluntary self-isolation where staff believe they have been exposed to or affected by Coronavirus
  • Details upon how this might play out if staff are affected
  • Implications on capacity and the impact of a lockdown in a part of the town where staff may live
  • Ensuring staff have laptops and take them home every evening to facilitate working from home should it be necessary
  • Consider remote access and overcome security issues to home-working
  • Issuing travel guidance
  • Company policy on absence related to a pandemic i.e. will you pay employees who self-isolate and/or become infected, will they receive paid leave if they have to care for children whose schools have been closed?
  • Record actions in your risk register
  • Devise and communicate a business continuity plan (or disaster recovery plan) which provides clear and direct guidance where unforeseen or emergency circumstances arise

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the government will reimburse small employers (<250 employees) any statutory sick pay they pay to employees, for the first 14 days of sickness. This is, presumably, a temporary measure to help insulate businesses against the impact of coronavirus.  Statutory sick pay is currently paid at £94.25 per week.  The Chancellor estimates that will cost up to £2 billion and help up to 2 million businesses.

If you would like assistance in preparing any relevant policies such as a Coronavirus Policy, Home-Working and/or Business Continuity Policy and/or require advice and assistance in relation to the issues outlined in this article, please contact Sarah Collier, Head of Employment on 01204 527777 or