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    3 Mar 2020 - News

    Coronavirus – employment advice from ACAS

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    ACAS have issued guidance for employers and employees about Coronavirus. A summary of this is provided below with a link to further information from ACAS and the NHS at the end of this article.

    Employee concerns above Coronavirus

    If you have an employee who does not want to go to work because they are afraid of catching coronavirus then you should listen to their concerns.

    If these are genuine, then you should try to resolve them to protect their health and safety – a suggestion by ACAS is home working but of course that is not going to be possible if working hands on with horses, but there may be some way of addressing their concerns.

    If an employee still does not want to come into work, you may be able to arrange with them to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave although you do not have to agree to that.  If an employee is unreasonably refusing to work, then it may result in disciplinary action but you would need to ensure you had fully investigated the employee’s reasons for not wishing to go into work.   Dismissal in such a situation is likely to be outside the range of reasonable responses at this time.  Advice should be sought if that situation arises particularly if the coronavirus issues continue in the longer term.

    Sick Pay

    Employee with coronavirus

    The workplace’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus.

    Employee who has been given medical advice to self-quarantine

    Strictly speaking the employee’s absence isn’t down to being unwell.  However, ACAS has advised that it is good practice for the employer to treat this as sick leave and follow their usual sick pay policy as otherwise there is a risk that the employee will come into work so they get paid, and could then spread the virus.  The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has gone further and stated that employers should pay sick pay to employees who have received medical advice to self-quarantine and that self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes.

    Employee chooses to self-isolate without medical guidance

    There is no legal right to pay if someone is not sick but has chosen to self-isolate (i.e. not on specific medical advice.)

    Employee requested by employer not to come into work

    If an employee is not sick but you tell them not to come to work, they should get their usual pay. For example, if someone has returned from China since the virus started and you ask them not to come in, just in case.

    There is more information on the ACAS website about measures that could be put in place if Coronavirus becomes more widespread in the UK and from the NHS.

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