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17th March 2020 – Covid-19 – Employers Update

SYLO Associates advice for employers to manage Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The new coronavirus disease, officially named COVID-19, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the virus continues to spread extensively, it’s likely to pose a significant challenge to many organisations.

Latest news

The Government has announced that the UK has now moved to the next phase of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Anyone experiencing fever or continuous coughing are now advised to self-isolate for 14 days. Employees self-isolating will normally be eligible for contractual sick pay or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced in his Budget 2020 speech that in addition to making Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) available from the first day of sickness absence rather than the fourth, SSP will be extended temporarily to cover:

  • those caring for household members displaying COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

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
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • they’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
  • if someone has symptoms, everyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

 Government refund up to 2 weeks’ SSP

The government will refund Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs related to coronavirus for businesses employing up to 250 staff. The refund is limited to two weeks per employee.

To see more news about the budget and coronavirus updates go to:

https://sylo-associates.co.uk/coronavirus-the-latest-updates/

 Managing Coronavirus (Covid-19) Checklist

We have a useful checklist to help manage coronavirus at work, contact us if you would like more details.

Letter setting out position on absence and pay

We have a template letter to support businesses in advising their staff about absence and pay.  This can be provided on request and if needed we can support customisation to reflect your policies.

 Contingency planning – flexible resourcing materials and guidance

We have produced some further support and resources for employers having to implement contingency plans.

Working from home – questionnaire for employees

As measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) escalate, urgent focus is being placed on organisations to enable their employees to work from home or otherwise work more flexibly.

If you would like a set of questions and responses which you can tailor to your organisation, to gauge what preparations and next steps are needed, please email us. We recommend that the questions and responses be adapted to fit your organisation’s usual internal surveying method or system, to best capture and process responses.

HSE Guide for Homeworkers

We also have available a guide for employers regarding the health and safety of homeworkers, there are links to Display Screen Equipment assessments etc. to facilitate having a safe home working environment.

Contract of employment

You may want to check your contract to see if you have the following or a similar Short-Time Working or Lay Off policy in case your resourcing needs change; however it would be worth considering the use of agency or temporary workers, and flexible working and voluntary leave options before taking more significant measures such as short-time working or lay-offs.

The example below is from SYLO’s standard contract of employment.

Short-Time Working and Lay Off

The Company reserves the right to introduce short time working or a period of temporary lay-off without pay (apart from any statutory entitlement) where this is necessary to avoid redundancies or where there is a shortage of work. 

Historically, these polices are rarely used and there may be a risk of legal claims associated with enforcing this clause if not managed correctly.   Circumstances are different now, so we suggest you if you need support with the above resourcing & employment decisions including the withdrawal of job offers if this proves necessary.

However, if you do not have a STW provision in your Contract of Employment please do get in touch as it’s highly likely we can do something to support you.

Employee Well Being

Mind have produced a helpful guide aimed at people with concerns about their mental health, but it includes practical advice about self-isolating and checklist to help people prepare to self-isolate.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

There is also a government guide to self-isolating: –

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Other useful contact information to keep to date 

NHS 111 online coronavirus service

UK Government – Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

UK Government – COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses

UK Government – Foreign travel advice

National Health Service – Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

ACAS – Coronavirus advice for employers and employees

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

World Health Organization – Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19