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Coronavirus - what employers should consider

27 February

Coronavirus - what employers should consider

The coronavirus, and how to prevent its spread, is currently dominating headlines. The issue is now affecting some schools in the UK, and so employers would be well advised to be aware of their legal position should the virus begin to impact on thei

The current advice from ACAS is based on the understanding that the risk of catching the coronavirus in the UK workplace is low, and identifies the following scenarios that could be relevant, and what employers can do in those situations: 

  • If an employee has the coronavirus, usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply;

  • If an employee does not have the coronavirus but the employer decides they shouldn’t come into work (if for example the employee has travelled to an affected country or area), the employee is entitled to receive their usual pay whilst being told to stay at home;

  • If an employee cannot attend the workplace because they are either quarantined or in self-isolation, whilst they have no legal right to be paid if they are not sick, ACAS suggests it would be good practice for the employer to treat the employee’s absence as sick leave, and to utilise the business sick leave policy or to agree with the employee that they take the time off as part of their annual leave entitlement;

  • If the employee does not want to attend at work due to the risk of catching the coronavirus, the employer should listen to genuine concerns and investigate whether the employee can work from home or utilise some other flexible working arrangement, or alternatively could arrange for the employee to take time off by way of annual leave or unpaid leave (though an employee simply refusing to attend at work will run the risk of being subject to the usual disciplinary procedures).

The position regarding the coronavirus in the UK, and preventing its spread, may well change.  Employers should keep up to date with the latest advice for businesses.

For further information or advice, please contact Dax Keeling on 0114 220 2172 or email