Coronavirus absence tips

With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus I’ve noticed that there seems to be two types of people: the catastrophisers and the minimizers. Those that are dashing to the shops to buy up all the hand sanitizer, soap and bleach and the others that are simply just getting on with normal life and aren’t worried one little bit until it comes knocking on their door. Which camp do you sit in?

I’m a minimizer, I don’t tend to worry about things until I need to as if you worry then you end up experiencing it twice if whatever you are worrying about actually happens. I do however recognise the seriousness and take the appropriate hand washing advice whilst having deep sympathy for the friends and family of those that have died.

I’ve just nipped to Aldi and there are some seriously empty shelves. We have had our first case of the virus confirmed in Nottingham city today which is not so far away from us so this may have contributed to the bulging trolleys. Some are feeling the stress and anxiety of the situation: I gave my friend a spare bottle of hand gel as she was concerned that the shelves were bare.

As the number of cases increases and the government prepares, the effects will start to hit businesses through restricted travel, access to goods and absenteeism. Absenteeism has been in the limelight in particular as the government has stated that workers will get statutory sick pay from the first day off work, not the fourth, to help contain coronavirus.   

ACAS have published some guidelines to assist employers when managing absence due to the virus. I outline them here:

  • The workplace’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus.
  • Pay someone their Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one that is due to them if they must go into self-isolation on the advice of NHS 111 or a doctor.
  • If the employer offers contractual sick pay, it’s good practice to pay this.
  • If an employee is not sick but their employer tells them not to come to work, they should get their usual pay. For example, if someone has returned from China or another affected area and their employer asks them not to come in.
  • Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus. There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
  • Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching coronavirus. An employer should listen to any concerns staff may have.
  • If an employee still does not want to go in, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.
  • If an employee refuses to attend work, it could result in disciplinary action.
  • In some situations, an employer might need to close their business for a short time. Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time.
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