COVID19 HR FAQ for Employers : Updated 14 April 2020

This information is correct as at 14 April 2020 but the situation is changing rapidly and we will do our best to keep you updated.

My employee has a high temperature and/or cough what should they do?

They will need to stay at home for 7 days and self isolate.

After 7 days:

  • if they do not have a high temperature, they do not need to stay at home
  • if they still have a high temperature, stay at home until their temperature returns to normal

They do not need to stay at home if they just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

My employee has just returned from a trip abroad can they come into work?

No, they should self isolate for 14 days and not come into work.

If a member of staff is self isolating can I ask them to do work?

Yes, you can if they are not ill and have the facility to work from home – if they are working they will receive their full salary.

If somebody is displaying COVID19 symptoms and can’t get into work do I need to pay them?

Not their full salary, unless they are entitled to full company sick pay under their contract.  They will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from Day 1 of being ill assuming they qualify for SSP.  (If you are not sure what the requirements are then contact us.)

I’ve heard that I can claim back any SSP that I have paid – is that right and how do I do it?

Yes, employers with less than 250 staff can claim this back from the government for up to two weeks per employee.   The government has not defined the mechanism for claiming this so just keep a log of it for now.

I don’t have any work for my staff, what do I do?

The government announced on Friday 20 March 2020 a Job Retention Scheme whereby employers will be able to access support to continue paying part (80%) of your employees’ salary up to a cap of £2,500 per month where staff are furloughed.    Employers will be able to submit a claim for  furloughed staff from 20 April 2020.Other options are short term lay off or redundancy – both of which are quite complex so please contact us for further guidance.

An employee has told me that they need to “shield” – does this mean that they cannot work?

The government via NHS have sent a letter to certain individuals who are at very high risk such as those who have cancer.  These individuals have been advised to self-isolate for a period of 12 weeks so they cannot work.    You should ask for proof of this from your employee.

I have an employee in the “high risk” (but not “shielding”) category and I have work for them to do, but they do not wish to work – they cannot work from home – Are the entitled to stay at home and be paid?

The government has issued recommendations only, if your employee refuses to work as they are afraid or concerned, as an employer you should take the time to listen to their concerns and where possible take steps to protect everyone.

Could you consider, offering car parking so that your employee can avoid using public transport.  Find a space in the office where they can be away from others or flexible hours so that they are avoiding working at peak periods?

If an employee still does not want to work, you may consider allowing them to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave.

However, if an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action.

I have an employee in the “high risk” (but not “shielding”) category as defined by the government – they want to carry on working and I have work for them  – is that OK?

The government’s position are recommendations and as long as the employee takes a stringent approach to social distancing they can carry on working.  As an employer however, you do have a duty of care to your employees, so you should ensure that all staff adhere to the social distancing recommendations.   You might also like to have a chat with the member of staff and get them to consider the risks of the still coming to work and seeing whether there are alternatives you can consider such as working from home or avoiding the use of public transport.

The schools/nurseries are closed and this has an impact on my staff, what do I do?

First of all you should establish if the staff are key workers or not – if they are then their children can attend school/nursery, as can children who are classed as vulnerable.   If not, then you will need to discuss options with your staff.  Examples might include – working from home, flexible hours, reducing hours etc.    This may have an impact on the employee’s contract so please contact us for further guidance.

Do I have to pay staff if they cannot work because their child’s school is shut?

No, you don’t but discussions should be held as to whether some of their time off can be taken as annual holiday.  Employees are allowed emergency unpaid time off to make arrangements for their childcare but there is no entitlement to paid time off. You may also consider the possibility of placing staff on furlough if you don’t have work for them. This would enable you to retain them as employees, continue to pay them at 80% of their salary and provide them with the means to take care of their families.

I’ve heard that the costs of redundancy are large – is that true?

It depends on how old the employee is and how long they have worked for you.    Please contact us and we can provide details for you.

What if I can’t afford to pay redundancy pay?

Employers cannot avoid this as it’s an obligation as an employer.   The only situation where a Company will not have to pay redundancy is if they are Insolvent.

These questions give outline guidance but if you have specific questions please contact our HR team on 020 8418 3333 or e-mail your query to advice@haslers.com.    Please note there will be a flat charge of £50 per call/e-mail.  Where more complex advice is needed, fees will be discussed with you.

COVID19 HR FAQ for Employers : Updated 14 April 2020