Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of all employees. During this time of uncertainty, it is difficult to decide what you need to concentrate your efforts on first. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we know that ensuring the health and safety of our employees comes above all else.
Firstly, you should adhere to the advice and guidance of the government. But that may be harder than it sounds, when this situation is evolving on an almost hourly basis. Currently the government is advising that we limit our movement, and avoid travel, for all but essential appointments. We know as small business owners ourselves that this can be difficult.
When assessing your employees, you need to know what is classed as vulnerable as you must take extra steps for these employees in particular. The government have classed the following categories of people as vulnerable, but they are not limited to just these. Those who –
Having identified your vulnerable employees, the government has issued guidance that strongly advises people who are at a higher risk of catching coronavirus (‘vulnerable people’) to take strict social distancing measures. At the foremost of these would be to ask them to work from home, if their job role allows this.
It is understandable that employees might not want to come to work if they are afraid of catching coronavirus. As an employer you should listen to any concerns staff may have, and take steps to protect everyone. Consider not just their physical health, but their mental wellbeing too.
If you have an employee who is particularly nervous about using public transport you may want to consider taking steps for them to be able to drive themselves into work. You could offer additional parking or subsidise any parking charges they may incur.
If none of this is possible you may want to arrange with them to take the time off as annual or unpaid leave.
If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, that could result in disciplinary action – but of course you want to avoid that, if at all possible.
The content contained within this document has been obtained from information gathered from www.gov.uk and www.acas.org.uk and may have changed since publication. It has been provided as a guide only. You should always seek professional advice pertaining to your own individual circumstances. Special thank you to Clive Thomas of Watkins and Gunn for his contribution.
And for more around self-isolation and absence issues, click to our Self-isolation and absence page.
If you are concerned about laying off staff, check the advice on our What if I need to lay off my employees? page.
Want to understand the furloughing process? Then visit our How to Furlough Your Employees page.
Want to know more about financial support during the coronavirus disruption? Then click to read the Financial Help for Businesses page.