Coronavirus HR Policies
The spread of COVID-19 (commonly referred to as Coronavirus) presents a continuing challenge for employers in that they have to, so far as is reasonably practicable, protect the health and safety of their workforce whilst maintaining the productivity of their business.
The employment team here at Slater Heelis are up to date with the latest government guidance and legal position.
They are well equipped to help you prepare and put in place robust Coronavirus HR policies to assist with the management of the workplace as the country opens up again.
It is important to have measures in place to protect your workforce and business operations, as well as having reporting processes in place.
Employees will want certainty and to be reassured that employers are responding to the latest Government guidance, so having thorough, professionally drafted Coronavirus HR policies is strongly recommended.
A clear policy should reassure your employees that you are taking the severity of the situation seriously.
It also ensures that management have the tools to deal with situations as they arise and that a consistent approach is adopted across your organisation
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Preparing and Updating Coronavirus HR Policies
When creating a coronavirus HR policy, it is important to ensure compliance with relevant laws and your contractual obligations to your employees.
Our employment law experts will gain an understanding of your business, the particular threats that the situation poses and prepare tailored policies to meet your specific business needs. It is also important that any coronavirus HR policy is consistent with and supplements any other policies that you may have in place (including but not limited to policies relating to absenteeism, agile working, data protection and holidays).
If you would like legal guidance in creating a coronavirus HR policy, our team is well versed and experienced to help you with this and address your HR and employment law concerns and queries.
If you are at all unsure about your obligations to your employees and/or what steps that you should be taking to ensure legal compliance, we recommend that you take specialist legal advice from one of the members of our employment team.
What do we do if an employee is returning from abroad and may have been exposed to the virus?
Guidance and advice is constantly changing in line with the severity of this pandemic. In the first instance we would advise an employer to check the Gov.uk website to determine the current and most up-to-date advice. The gov.uk website is updated multiple times daily with information about the number of cases, the risk level, guidance for returning travellers and country-specific information.
Do employees need to be paid for time off?
This will depend on the circumstances and the reason an employee is taking time off. The starting point is generally that if an employee is willing and able to perform work, the employer has an obligation to pay wages. However, this is not always the case and other factors will need to be considered in respect of why the employee is taking time off to include whether the employee is unwell, what medical advice they have received, whether they are self-isolating, whether you have closed the workplace and/or whether they are subject to mandatory quarantine.
Are there any other laws that employers should be aware of?
Employers should be mindful of data protection laws when communicating with staff. Personal data such as medical records and health information is special category data under data protection legislation. If an employee does contact their employer to tell them that they have tested positive to coronavirus, it is important that personal data about an employee’s health is not broadcast to the organisation.
Employers should also be aware of the laws in respect of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. An employer may consider carrying out a risk assessment to identify higher risk groups and to consider steps that can be taken to minimise risk to more vulnerable employees.
What about caring for dependants?
Employers need to recognise that they might have to allow employees time off to look after dependants, for example, if schools close and they need to look after their children.
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