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COVID-19: What Action Should Employers Be Taking Now?

31 March 2020

The action an employer should take will depend, to some extent, on the nature of the workplace, the roles carried out and the demographic of their workforce.

Some of the issues that employers should consider from an employment law perspective include:

  • Sick pay. The employer should consider its contractual sick pay policy, and the practical implications on withholding pay or reducing pay to SSP.
  • Absence management. Similarly, consideration should be given to how absence management processes and trigger points may be adjusted to reflect self-isolation and high numbers of diagnosed cases.
  • Remote working infrastructure. Whether the infrastructure is in place to allow large numbers of employees to work from home. Is the IT system prepared for a high number of employees to work remotely? Do employees have the hardware necessary to work from home? Will additional guidance need to be issued to reduce demand on the IT systems if many people will be working remotely simultaneously?
  • Homeworking policies. Clear communication with workers on the employer's policy on homeworking, work travel and precautionary isolation. Provide regular updates. Ensure that employees are asked to speak to their manager upon return from any overseas travel prior to attending the workplace, and that they are notified of the government's position on self-isolation as it develops, as well as the employer's position if more stringent.
  • Ensure that employees have provided up to date personal details.
  • Business continuity. Identify business critical roles and how they can be maintained following the closure of schools and nurseries. Consider what pay employees will receive if they work part-time to fit around childcare, and the benefits of acting flexibly to allow as many employees as possible to continue working.
  • Worst case planning. Identify the minimum safe level of workers required to continue operating, and how that can be maintained in the worst-case scenario. Identify the point at which the business may need to cease operating temporarily and consider the employment law consequences.
  • Sick employees. Provide clear information to managers on how to deal with an employee who attends work displaying symptoms, or who has potentially been exposed to the virus.
  • Anti-discrimination measures. Identify any high-risk employees and consider whether there are any potential discrimination implications which mean a more cautious approach is required.

This article is provided by Burlingtons for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact Richard Berry or write to us using the contact form below.

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