Coronavirus: Questions and Answers for Employers

Coronavirus: Questions and Answers for Employers [Information from ACAS]

Q. I have an employee who doesn’t want to come to work because of the risk of contracting Coronavirus. What should I do?

A. Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching coronavirus. This could particularly be the case for those who are at higher risk.

As an employer you should listen to any concerns staff may have and should take steps to protect everyone.

If an employee still does not want to come in, they may be able to arrange with you to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. You do not have to agree to this.

If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, you may have to resort to disciplinary action, however, given this crisis is unprecedented this should be a last resort.

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Q What if I feel I need to close my shop due to the lack of trade following Government recommendations that people should avoid unnecessary social contact?

 A. If you need to close your shop temporarily, you should plan your actions carefully.

The Coronavirus outbreak has created a situation that is difficult for both you as an employer and your staff who will be facing difficult issues. It’s a good idea to have open and transparent discussions with them making sure the pressure that your business faces is understood and that you are determined to do what it takes to survive the crisis and still be trading when the recovery comes.

Lay-offs and short-time working:

You may have to ask staff to reduce their contracted hours.

If you think you will need to do this, it’s important to talk with them as early as possible before closure and to keep in touch with them during the closed.

Unless it says in the employees Contract of Employment or is agreed otherwise, employers need to pay their staff during this time. We are awaiting a Government response to this as to whether or not the £10k grant promised by the Welsh Government should be used to pay employees.

Employees who are laid off and are not entitled to their usual pay might be entitled to a ‘statutory guarantee payment’ of up to £29 a day from you.

This is limited to a maximum of 5 days in any period of 3 months. On days when a guarantee payment is not payable, employees might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.

[More information from ACAS ]

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Using Holiday Entitlement

You have the right to tell staff when to take holiday if you need to. For example, you can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement.

If you do decide to do this, you must tell your staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.

For example, if you want to close for 5 days, you should tell everyone at least 10 days before.

This could affect holidays staff have already booked or planned. You should explain clearly why you need to close and try to resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans.

 Q. What should I do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone?

 A. Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency.

A dependant does not necessarily live with the person, for example they could be an elderly neighbour or relative who relies on the person for help.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but you might offer pay depending on the employee’s contract or workplace policy.

The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.

If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, they should receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum for this time from day one. They will also need to follow self-isolation guidance on GOV.UK.


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