NEW advice has been published on what rights people have at work when it comes to coronavirus.

Acas said the coronavirus outbreak had sparked concerns around what rights someone has when it comes to sick leave or how employers should handle a situation at work if a staff member is affected by the virus.

The new advice aims to help employers and their staff understand their rights when it comes to handling the impact of coronavirus at work. 

Acas said:

  • A workplace’s normal sick pay policies apply if someone has coronavirus. But if someone is not sick and their employer tells them not to come into work then they should get their usual pay. For example, if someone has returned from China since the virus outbreak and their employer asks them not to come in as a precaution.
  • There is no legal obligation for an employer to pay someone who is not sick but cannot work as they have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate or have had to go into quarantine. Acas’ advice is that it is good practice for an employer in this situation to treat it as sick leave and follow their usual sick leave policy or offer the employee the option to take the period as paid annual leave. This can help to reduce the risk that a staff member may feel compelled to come into work and could spread the virus if they have it.
  • If an employee does not want to go into work due to concerns around catching coronavirus then employers should listen to their concerns and offer reassurance. Options to consider include: offering flexible working arrangements such as homeworking or allowing them to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave

If coronavirus spreads more widely in the UK, Acas advice is that employers should:

  • Make sure staff contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • Ensure managers are clear on workplace processes such as sickness and absence policies
  • Implement NHS advice on hygiene such as encouraging everyone to wash their hands regularly and ensuring there are clean places to wash hands with soap and water
  • Give out hand sanitisers and tissues to staff and encourage their use