Coronavirus Guidance for Employers 

How We Can Help 

Advise on your rights as an employer or employee, including issues around holiday leave, implementing government support schemes and changes to employment contracts 
Help update your policies, including working from home 
Ensure redundancies are fair and legal 
Advise on issues around Self-Isolation and Statutory Sick Pay 
Advise on whether whistleblowing protections apply in your situation 
Draft or advise on settlement agreements 
The current situation with Coronavirus COVID-19 is unprecedented. Both businesses and employees have been affected and need to know their rights. The best outcome will be one that supports both employers and employees through this difficult time.  
 
This page is only general guidance, not legal advice. Please be aware that the situation is changing rapidly as the government introduces new measures and updates advice. Many decisions will depend on your particular circumstances and employment contract, and so we would need to know more about your individual situation to give legal advice. 
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Self-Isolation and Statutory Sick Pay 

During the early stages of the pandemic, changes to statutory sick pay made pay available from day one of absence, and for employees who were advised to self-isolate even if they were not ill. Businesses with less than 250 employees were also able to reclaim two weeks’ sick pay paid to eligible employees. 
 
From the 24th March 2022, these measures will no longer apply, and statutory sick pay will return to pre-pandemic conditions. Employees are only eligible for statutory sick pay from day 4 of their absence and employers will no longer be able to reclaim the costs of statutory sick pay when an employer is isolating.  
 
From 1st April 2022, Covid tests will no longer be available for free, so employers who wish to encourage testing will need to consider the cost implications.  
 
However, employers still need to be wary of their health and safety duties, and may wish to consider the risk to staff and clients of allowing employees to work with Covid. There may also be business implications, as the public are still largely uncomfortable with public-facing workers working with Covid.  
 
Get in touch for advice on sick leave and sick pay policies.  
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Reopening the Workplace 

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes a legal duty on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees at work, so far as reasonably practical. Employers must provide a safe work environment with adequate facilities and without risks to health. 
 
Employees may report breaches of safety guidelines to the local authority and the Health and Safety Executive. Employees who report concerns will be covered by Whistleblowing protection, and so cannot be penalised for reporting the failings. 
 
The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that employees who reasonably believe they are at risk of serious or imminent danger at work can leave work and refuse to return while the danger persists. 

What if employees are still reluctant to return? 

Refusing to work without a good reason is generally a disciplinary matter. However, if the employee does have reasonable cause to believe they face serious danger they would be protected by legislation and possibly whistleblowing protection. In these circumstances, an employee may be able to claim for unfair dismissal without needing the minimum period of service and may be eligible for increased compensation. This would be a risky path to take unless employers are entirely satisfied that they have taken every measure to reduce the risk to staff. 

Continuing to work remotely 

Many businesses have found that working remotely or flexibly has been successful, and intend to continue in some way. If so, it is important that updated policies reflect these new working arrangements. 
 
Policies should explain whether remote and flexible options are open to every role, or by request. If by request, the policy should explain how organisations decide which grants to request - and be sure that the approach is not open to indirect discrimination. 

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive 

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Risk assessments: Before opening you must carry out a COVID19 risk assessment, involving employees and trade unions where appropriate. Businesses with more than 50 employees must publish this assessment on their website. 
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Social distancing: Maintain a two-metre distance between people wherever possible. 
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Working hours: Help reduce the risks of commuting by allowing staff to travel at quieter times or providing additional parking so that staff can drive to work. 
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Insurance: Under the Employers Liability (Compulsory) Insurance Act 1969 you must be insured against liability for injury and disease and so should consider the effect of coronavirus on your insurance. 
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Vulnerable employees: Consider the additional risk to certain groups of people, including older people, and those with existing conditions. Failure to keep these employees safe could lead to age or disability discrimination claims. 
The government has also released detailed guidance by industry
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Employment Tribunals 

Most tribunals are now operating remotely. 
 
There is currently a backlog of cases waiting to reach the tribunal, not helped by lockdown measures. The number of cases heading to the tribunal is likely to increase as more businesses plan to make changes to their workforce. 
 
Several changes are being made to help the tribunal work through the backlog more quickly. These changes include: 
 
More cases being heard virtually 
Non-employment judges hearing cases, where certain criteria are met 
Relieving judges’ workload by allowing legal officers to carry out some administrative work 
Allowing multiple claimants and respondents to use the same forms, where reasonable 
 
We can help you navigate these changes. 
 
Visit the gov.uk courts and tribunal tracker for up to date lists of the status of each court. 
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Get in touch 

Do you have a legal matter you'd like to discuss with us? Get in touch using the details below or use the form here and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your enquiry. 
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Phone: 0121 817 0520 
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Address: Spencer Shaw Solicitors Limited 
St Mary's House, 68 Harborne Park Road,  
Harborne, Birmingham, B17 0DH 
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Opening hours: 
Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 5:00PM 
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays - Closed 
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