Coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Common signs of infection include headache, fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Individuals who are elderly or pregnant, anyone with pre-existing medical conditions is at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from coronaviruses.
How Does Coronavirus Spread
Although the current coronavirus outbreak likely resulted from people who were exposed to infected animals, COVID-19 can spread between people through their respiratory secretions. Especially when they cough or sneeze.
According to health experts, the spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person most likely occurs among close contacts. Who are within a few metres of each other. It’s unclear at this time if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Follow sick leave and pay standards
The government confirmed that any employee who becomes a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been instructed by either the NHS or a health professional to self-isolate should receive statutory sick pay during their absence from work. Furthermore, employees are also entitled to time off of work. If they need to take care of a dependent (eg a child) who has become a confirmed case of COVID-19 or instructed to self-isolate.
If any of your employees are not sick, but you make the decision to not have them come to work, they are entitled to their usual pay.
Make workplace adjustments
Some employees might not be comfortable coming into work because of the spread of coronavirus. As an employer, you are required to listen to any concerns your staff may have. If employees’ concerns are genuine, it is your duty to resolve them to ensure the health and safety of your staff.
Potential resolutions include implementing flexible work options (eg remote work) or allowing the employee to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave. If an employee continually refuses to attend work without genuine concerns present, you have a right to take disciplinary action.
Additional Best Practices
In addition to government guidance, be sure to educate employees on the signs and symptoms of coronavirus. The precautions that can be taken to minimise the risk of contracting the virus, without causing panic. Further, appoint a single individual or department as the point of contact within your organisation for employee questions about COVID-19. Lastly, review workplace health and safety programmes and emergency action plans to ensure that they include infectious-disease protocols.
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