Coronavirus Advice for Employees
If you are displaying symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 14 days from when your symptoms started.
You do not need a sick note for the first 7 days of sick leave. The Government is urging employers to respect the need to stay at home where they are following government advice to do so and to show flexibility in the evidence they require from employees.
Statutory sick pay will be paid from day one of illness.
You can find more information on Government guidance for employees here
Coronavirus Advice for Employers
The following is Government advice:
What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace
For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID19 are awaited. In particular, there is no need to close the workplace or send other staff home at this point. Most possible cases turn out to be negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that the workplace needs to take.
What to do if a member of staff or the public with confirmed COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace
Closure of the workplace is not recommended.
The management team of the office or workplace will be contacted by the PHE local Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
A risk assessment of each setting will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with the lead responsible person. Advice on the management of staff and members of the public will be based on this assessment.
The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any contacts of the case to provide them with appropriate advice.
Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as offices or toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team. and is outlined later in this document.
When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
If a confirmed case is identified in your workplace, the local Health Protection Team will provide the relevant staff with advice. These staff include:
- any employee in close face-to-face or touching contact
- talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was symptomatic
- anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids
- close friendship groups or workgroups
- any employee living in the same household as a confirmed case
Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well, they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others:
- those who have had close contact will be asked to stay at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet
- they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
- if they develop new symptoms or their existing symptoms worsen within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for reassessment
- if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
- if they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection
- Staff who have not had close contact with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions and can continue to attend work.
Certifying absence from work
By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor.
Your employee will be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19.
It is strongly suggested that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home due to suspected COVID-19, in accordance with the public health advice being issued by the government.
More information for employers can be found here
Support for Small Businesses
The Government has announced measures to support businesses including:
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- a Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
The Government will allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
- eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
- the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible
Support for businesses who pay business rates
- The Government will increase the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for the 2020 to 2021 tax year for properties below £51,000 rateable value.
- The relief will also be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors in response to COVID-19.
- Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
- Those businesses eligible for the newly expanded retail discount and/or the new pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the application of the expanded retail discount will be published by 20 March
More information is available here