The outbreak of coronavirus, officially Covid-19, raises points of employment law, immigration, health and safety and data protection law for UK employers. Specific legal advice should be sought where necessary, as the situation is changing daily.
UK employers with globally connected workforces will need to monitor the impact of the outbreak and take steps to protect their employees and their potential employees where necessary.
Employers may want to start thinking about whether they need to take any steps to facilitate home working, and considering whether they want to encourage employees to ensure that they have the correct set-up at home to be able to work there if required to do so. This may include ensuring that all employees have a way of logging on to secure systems from home.
Employers must bear in mind the duties that they owe to other employees under UK health and safety law. If they knowingly allow an individual who has been advised to self-isolate to attend their premises or come into contact with other employees, they may be in breach of those duties, particularly where any of those other employees are more vulnerable to infection - for example, pregnant employees, those with long-term health conditions.
Recruitment agencies may also want to review their approach to face-to-face meetings or business travel. For example, balancing the potential risk and weigh up whether they can conduct their work another way. Instead of meeting face to face, could it be done on the phone or via skype?
This could be a key time to raise awareness and update your flexible working policy to enable employees to work from home (particularly those who are more vulnerable) or have different working hours if needed. The governments guidance is being updated daily and the key is to ensure that you are aware of what that advise is and policies are in place within your workplace to enable employees to follow that advise.
Ensure that precautions are being taken around the workplace such as having hand sanitising stations and asking employees returning from holidays in affected areas, self-quarantine if they show any flu-like symptoms. Ensuring you are not singling anyone one out because of their race or ethnicity, is important.
The impact of coronavirus in the UK is changing every day which should be relayed to staff.
To keep up to date with the latest information, follow the link below to the Government website: