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Emma O'Connor


Below are some of the issues and questions which you might be impacting your business in light of the current Coronavirus outbreak. This summary is based on current Public Health England and government advice as at  March 2020. The advice and messaging around the Coronavirus (or COVID-19), is changing rapidly. The main themes are be vigilant, prepare and be flexible (as you can be) in this developing situation. It is important to check government websites as well as take specific legal advice. This guide is based on employers and employees; although, some advice will apply to your total workforce as well as to your customers and guests. This guide is spilt as follows:

Part 1 - introduction and current government advice

Part 2- how can we prepare our business and workforce – some practical suggestions

Part 3 - how can we support our business and workforce: key messages for employers

Part 4 - pay, continuing work, “furlough” – the (new) future workplace need

Part 1 - introduction and current government advice

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020. The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days. The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection: cough, difficulty in breathing and fever. Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Those who are pregnant may also be at greater risk as well as those over 70 years of age. 
There are 2 main routes by which COVID-19 is spread:

  • infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs;
  • someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face)

Periods of self-isolation:

  • if workers have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if workers live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
  • if they live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
  • This advice is: do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital and they do not need to contact 111 to tell them they are staying at home.

We have been told to:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • Leave the house once a day for exercise
  • Gatherings of more than 2 people are not allowed (except being with your household or for funerals)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family.

All “non-essential” shops and public venues have been told to close; however, the government are not asking any other businesses to close; however, businesses should encourage their employees to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so. Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.


Get in touch

If you have any questions relating to this article or have any employment issues you would like to discuss, please contact the Employment team on [email protected]

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