In line with the latest government advice in regards to Coronavirus, Private Households should consider some simple steps to help protect the health and safety of their staff and family members.
It’s good practice for Households that employ domestic staff to:
- Allow as many staff as possible to work from home. In view of the directive to “Stay At Home” for all non-essential workers, you may consider operating with a skeleton staff as far as possible.
- Ensure all staff’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
- Ensure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on process
- Ensure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
- Provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
- Consider if protective face masks might help for people working in particularly vulnerable situations, perhaps staff who care for elderly members of the Household or Nannies who work with very young children.
- Consider postponing any travel unless essential
It goes without saying that employers must not single anyone out and must not treat an employee differently because of their race or ethnicity.
If a Staff Member is sick
If a Staff Member has coronavirus they should inform you as their employer immediately. Their usual sick leave and sick pay entitlement will apply, and statutory sick pay will apply from day 1 rather than day 4. This is a temporary measure.
You may have to relax some aspects of sickness policy as staff may not be able to get a sick note if they have been told to self-isolate for 14 days.
If one of your staff is not sick but cannot work because they’re in self-isolation or quarantine
If a member of staff does not have coronavirus but cannot work because they:
- have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate
- have had to go into quarantine
- has to self-isolate because a member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus
then the staff member is eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) and/or their usual contracted sick pay.
Remember, if they can work from home they can be paid as usual.
If a member of staff is not sick but you have asked them not to come to work
If your staff member is not sick but you have asked them not to come to work, perhaps because they have returned from one of the affected areas, they should get their usual pay.
If a staff member needs time off work to look their children because their school has closed
Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them in an unexpected event or emergency as follows:
- if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed
- to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital
There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy. You might offer say two days off to begin with, and if more time is required then you may ask the employee to book holiday.
What if staff members do not want to go to work?
Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching coronavirus. It is important, as an employer, to listen to any concerns staff may have.
If there are genuine concerns, you must try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of your staff.
If an employee still does not want to come into work, you may agree to allow them to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. You are not obliged to do this. You might consider as to whether they can work from home.
If an employee is unable to work from home and refuses to attend work, it could result in disciplinary action.
Working from home
As an employer, you should think about whether you can take steps to facilitate home working, and to consider whether you want to encourage staff to ensure that they have the correct set-up at home to be able to work there if required to do so.
What to do if someone becomes unwell at work
If someone becomes unwell in the workplace and has recently come back from an area affected by coronavirus, they should:
- get at least 2 metres (7 feet) away from other people
- go to a room or area behind a closed door, such as a sick bay or staff office
- avoid touching anything
- cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
- use a separate bathroom from others, if possible
The unwell person should use their own mobile phone to call either:
- for NHS advice: 111
- for an ambulance, if they’re seriously ill: 999
They should tell the operator:
- their symptoms
- which country they’ve returned from in the last 14 days
Keep an eye on this for regular updates: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
If you have any concerns over how to manage your staff members, please contact Franklin for expert advice.
As this is a fluid situation, please contact us for the latest guidance.
Also, please see our other article in regards to Furloughed Workers.