Employment Law FAQ’s
Do I pay an employee if they are off work with the coronavirus?
The practice’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone potentially has coronavirus and employees should be reminded to alert the manager as soon as possible if they’re not able to come to work.
Employees who self-isolate are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). Note that the Government have announced SSP is to be paid from day one, rather than day four. It would be good practice to provide contractual sick pay in such circumstances. Be aware these employees may be unable to promptly provide a sick note/fit note if required to self-isolate for 14 days (employees are not required to self-certify for the first 7 days).
Do we need to pay an employee if we have to close the practice?
If the practice is forced to close for a short time then you still need to pay your employees. The only exception is if your employees’ contracts state otherwise (i.e. a lay off agreement) or an alternative agreement has been reached.
What if an employee refuses to come to work due to the coronavirus?
Some employees may not be ill, but may not wish to come to work through fear of contracting coronavirus. Or an employee may wish to stay home to care for someone who is unwell. There's no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
If an employee refuses to come to work then the employer needs to speak with the person to see if there is a genuine concern. If there is not, then the employee would not be entitled to sick pay but could apply for annual leave (subject to the usual approval processes).
Discuss any concerns with the employee and try to reach a mutually agreed arrangement. Although not always practicable in clinical practice, one option could be to offer flexible working. Be clear that if an employee refuses to attend work without good reason, this could result in disciplinary action.
What should I do to minimise the risk to employees?
Send information and guidance to staff informing them of any actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace. This should highlight relevant guidance from Government/the NHS on the importance of hand-washing and of disposing of used tissues etc.
What if an employee has to self -isolate because someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms?
Employees and workers must receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they require to self-isolate because someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms.
If someone has symptoms, everyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days. Employers might offer more than SSP, contractual sick pay, but this is a decision for them to make.
Further guidance can be found here.
What happens if my child’s school closes and I need to look after them?
Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations relating to coronavirus such as if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed.
There's no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or practice policy.
The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation and they can also request annual leave.