Coronavirus - An Employers Guide

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Covering topics to help you effectively manage your employees.

The coronavirus seemingly came out of nowhere and has sent much of the world into a panic.

Little is known about the virus and the impact it might have on a global scale, but businesses need to prepare accordingly.

Only 1 or 2 cases of the virus have so far been reported in the United Kingdom, but UK businesses are going to need to look at how to minimise the potential impact.

These are some of the steps and issues employers might need to consider in order to prepare for a potential onset of the coronavirus over the next few weeks. 

Employees Returning from Infected Areas

Suspending employees who are returning from infected areas (on full pay) is the best way of taking the right precautions as a business. There are things to consider here, and it is essential to try to keep this suspension period as short as possible. Alternatively, consider allowing employees to work from home or let them take additional annual leave if they wish. If employees return with symptoms, then you may need to go down the Company's sickness process instead.

Travelling Employees

Many companies are going to have employees who are required to travel as part of their job, and this can be something that affects your company. Monitor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the updates they are giving about the situation. This will help you significantly when it comes to making the right decisions. 

Avoid Discrimination

Employers have to be very wary of how they deal with employees of Asian backgrounds. Since the outbreak of the virus, there have been reports of an increase in hostility towards those ethnic groups. You need to make sure all your employees are treated the same. Businesses should not tolerate "banter" and jokes surrounding the issue.

Quell Panic

The more cases there are of the coronavirus spreading, and the more fatalities that are reported, the more panic is going to set in. Your employees are going to be panicking and worrying about the future. It would help if you tried to prioritise clear and constant communication with your staff. Give them regular updates, and let them know what the company’s stance is when it comes to dealing with the virus. 

Keep Abreast of Official Guides

One of the best ways of being able to achieve this is to keep an eye on the official guides that are released by the WHO and the Foreign Office. Understanding what their updates and precautions are is vital for helping to influence your own approach is one of the best ways to take things forward. In previous scenarios such as swine flu and SARS, the importance of handwashing and good personal hygiene was particularly emphasised. 

Employees Stranded

In some situations, you might find you have employees stranded in Asia, who have been unable to travel back because of quarantine issues. These employees might be able to take additional paid leave to cover this absence. It could help if you also thought about the possibility of bringing in short-term employees to deal with this.

As you can see, there are many factors that you need to consider when you are trying to improve your company’s approach to the virus, and how you will proceed. Understanding the different elements that play a part in this is so important, and you are going to need to focus on this as much as possible.

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About the author

James Rowland

Account Services


James is on the Business Development & Account Management team at Neathouse Partners and regularly posts articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law, including case law & legislation updates. If you have a particular issue you would like addressed, feel free to drop James an email, and he will be happy to offer his assistance.

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