Coronavirus – a guide for employers
This clarification is welcomed and deals with what was until now a grey area, with ACAS previously advising that there was no legal right to such payments. As the Health Secretary said: “That is a very important message for employers and those who can go home and self-isolate as if they were sick, because it is for medical reasons.”
This guidance provides much needed clarity at a time when questions are being raised. It is important to note, however, that if an individual chooses to self-isolate without any medical guidance they will not qualify for statutory sick pay.
If a place of work needs to be shut down, employers should have a policy and plan in place. They will need to consider if people can work remotely, what the contact arrangements are to keep employees up to date, and other measures that will need to be taken to best ensure that a business can continue to operate.
If the workplace is required to shut down, in most cases employers will need to continue to pay their staff as normal, unless the employee can work remotely but voluntarily choose not to.
We offer this advice to employers:
- Determine what proportionate steps should be taken by the company concerning day-to-day work, such as the provision of hand-sanitisers, ability to work remotely, and other steps.
- Determine when and in what circumstances sick pay is to be paid, including the reporting framework for employees so that the policy can be applied on a consistent basis.
- Set up a central point of contact for your employees and managers, so that queries and issues can be addressed, again on a consistent basis.
- Ideally prepare a written policy detailing issues such as (i) steps to be taken by employees, such as washing hands, (ii) how and who to report any concerns regarding coronavirus, (iii) the situations in which sick pay will and will not be paid, including reporting, and (iv) travel on company business.