Guidance for employers and businesses against COVID-19

Guidance for UK Employers

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to growing uncertainty among employers and businesses about the effects of the virus on their business.

For some, there is the option for employees to work from home but for others, a physical shop or presence is necessary.

The UK Government offers guidance for employees, employers and businesses for advice on how to cope and lessen the impact of COVID-19 on business.

Responsibilities of employees, employers and businesses

First and foremost, the advice is for businesses to promote knowledge about COVID-19 to their employees to try and prevent anyone in the company from contracting the disease; having employees working from home can help with this.

This includes regular washing of hands for twenty seconds with soap or with alcohol hand sanitiser along with the proper use of and disposal of tissues if someone is sneezing or coughing.

Employees need to recognise if they might have symptoms of coronavirus or if they think they may have come into contact with someone who did.

From here, employees should contact their employers and work out a plan of action.

If it is only a possibility that the employee may have come into contact with the virus, they should be separated from the rest of their colleagues at least two metres away.

If they are showing symptoms (high temperature or continuous cough) in this time, it is advised to use 111 coronavirus service. Only call 111 if you are unable to get the help you need online, and for any life-threatening emergencies you should always call 999.

If a member of staff or the public have been on your premises and have since been confirmed to have COVID-19, you should not immediately close the workplace.

Instead, Public Health England will be in contact and will conduct a risk assessment on the premises and the members of staff and will recommend isolation where necessary and advice on cleaning will be provided.

If a staff member is off sick, they should not be asked to provide medical evidence for the first seven days they are off; after this, it is at the discretion of the employer as to whether they require any medical notes.

Support from the Government

The UK Government has released an action plan to handle the COVID-19 outbreak which includes a mitigation phase.

The mitigation phase will come into full effect when the outbreak can’t be contained and the Government may consider the possibility of a lockdown.

If this is the case, the Government will look to lessen the impact with support for public services as well as businesses with HMRC allowing for delayed payments in the circumstances.

  • In the budget of 11th March 2020, the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which will provide businesses with a loan of £1.2 million as long as the turnover is no more than £41 million.
  • The Government will also refund businesses of 250 employees or fewer for fourteen days of Statutory Sick Pay which will help over two million businesses.The Government has also abolished business rates for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

It is hoped that these measures will keep as many businesses running in the long term once the outbreak is under control.