Coronavirus Crisis | Managing Employees

Our advice below has been sourced from a number of official locations. Primarily aimed at employers, the information may be of use to your staff too.​​

Employers | Good Practice

  • visit ACAS website for full details of rights
  • keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
  • make sure everyone's contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace shows symptoms of the virus
  • make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
  • provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
  • reconsider any travel to affected areas
  • Employers must not single anyone out. For example, they must not treat an employee differently because of their race or ethnicity.

Self-isolation and sick pay

  • Employees and workers must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because:
    • they have coronavirus
    • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
    • they've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
    • Employers might offer more than SSP depending on their policy or situation

If an employee or worker cannot work

  • They should tell their employer as soon as possible including the reason and how long they're likely to be off for
  • The employer might need to be flexible if they require evidence from the employee or worker
  • Their employer should pay them Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or contractual sick pay while they're in self-isolation and cannot work.

If an employee is not sick but the employer tells them not to come to work

  • If an employee is not sick but their employer tells them not to come to work, they should get their usual pay.

If an employee needs time off work to look after someone

  • There's no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
  • Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus.
    • E.g. If they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed to help their child 
  • The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.

If an employee does not want to go to work

  • An employer should listen to any concerns staff may have.
  • If there are genuine concerns, the employer must try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of their staff. For example, if possible, the employer could offer flexible working.
  • If an employee still does not want to go in, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.​

If someone with coronavirus comes to work

  • If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the workplace does not necessarily have to close.
  • The local Public Health England (PHE) health protection team will get in contact with the employer to discuss the case and next actions. You should call them on 0344 225 3560 (option 2) or for Out of Hours advice 01384 679 031

If the employer needs to close the workplace

  • An employer may want to plan in case they need to close the workplace temporarily. For example, making sure staff have a way to communicate with the employer and other people they work with.​

Lay-offs and short-time working

  • See ACAS for general information
  • See ACAS for Employer Questions on Lay-offs
  • In some situations, an employer might need to close down their business for a short time. Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time.
  • If the employer thinks they'll need to do this, it's important to talk with staff as early as possible and throughout the closure.
  • Is it possible for staff to ​use their holiday to take some time off?
  • Would staff consider unpaid leave?
  • Employers have the right to tell employees and workers when to take holiday if they need to. For example, they can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement.
    • If the employer does decide to do this, they must tell staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.

Help for Employees temporarily laid off